Oakland bans use of facial recognition technology
23 July 2019 17:27 GMT

Oakland City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the use of facial recognition by city departments, including police, making it the third city in the country to do so after San Francisco and Somerville, Mass.

The ordinance, introduced by council president Rebecca Kaplan, amends the city’s current surveillance ordinance and prevent city departments from adopting any facial recognition technology and from using information obtained by the software, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I am thrilled my colleagues clearly understood the flaws in face recognition technology at this time,” Kaplan said in a statement. “I welcome emerging technologies that improve our lives and facilitate city governance, but when multiple studies show a technology is flawed, biased, and is having unprecedented, chilling effects to our freedom of speech and religion, we have to take stand.”

A study released in January 2018 by the M.I.T. Media Lab found that facial recognition software incorrectly identified up to 35% of darker-skinned women. In 2016, Georgetown University estimated that 117 million Americans were in law enforcement facial recognition databases. The study found police facial recognition technology disproportionately affects African Americans.