Privacy advocates in Oakland are proposing a ban on the city’s use of facial recognition technology. The ban would prohibit the use of “any face recognition technology or any information obtained from face recognition technology.”
Brian Hofer, chair of the Oakland Privacy Commission said the San Francisco District Attorney’s office and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department have already reported using the technology to fight crime.
“We need to limit it now,” said Hofer. “We’re moving to amend the [Oakland Privacy Ordinance] to prohibit the use of facial recognition technology because of the dangers it possesses.”
The risks of Amazon’s facial recognition technology, Rekognition, were highlighted last year when the ACLU tested the software and found that it falsely matched 28 members of Congress with mugshots. In a statement, the ACLU said, “The false matches were disproportionately of people of color, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus.”
“We know that it has a really high error rate, especially for women and people of color,” Hofer said. “The darker your skin is, the more trouble it has identifying you.”
People KPIX 5 spoke to in Oakland feared that the technology would not just make mistakes, but it would also take away a person’s anonymity.
“Anytime they run your face through the software I’m sure it’s going to log your address, the time and everything else so it’s kind of just keeping tabs on everybody,” said Richard Hogan, a supporter of the proposed ban.