Rights coalitions call for Chicago to ban face recognition
07 February 2020 11:19 GMT

A coalition of 75 rights groups known as Press Pause Chicago has said a moratorium on facial recognition technology is needed to prevent racial bias and privacy violations.

The call for a moratorium follows reports by the Chicago Sun-Times that city agencies have accessed inaccurate and racially-biased facial recognition technology for over a decade. 

“We can see the terrible trajectory that this kind of technology leads us down,” said Muhammad Sankari of the Arab American Action Network. “That’s why we’re calling for the Mayor to outright ban its use in the City of Chicago.”

The Chicago Police Department now uses a photo matching software called Clearview to search social media images to identify potential suspects; even though the department said it strictly uses the process to solve crimes that have already been reported.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying:

"We have been assured repeatedly by the Chicago Police Department and the relevant vendors that the Department does not utilize any live Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) or software, which uses dynamic algorithms in video technology to identify individuals in a live or real-time environment.

The CPD uses a facial matching tool to sort through its mugshot database and public source information in the course of an investigation triggered by an incident or crime, allowing the Department to speed up the sorting of thousands of mugshot photos when there is a possible comparator image. 

From early on in our administration, we have conferred with a range of stakeholders. We will now formalize those discussions through the creation of a working group consisting of public safety leaders, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to conduct an immediate review of the City’s current use of this technology."