Oakland to become the third U.S. city to ban facial recognition

The city trails San Francisco, California, and Somerville, Massachusetts.

Aug 20, 2019, 6:22 pm*

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Mikael Thalen 

Mikael Thalen

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Ian Ransley/Flickr (CC-BY)

Oakland, California, is one step closer to banning facial recognition after moving to bar city employees from using such technology through a vote on Tuesday.

The ordinance, approved by the Oakland City Council, will be followed by a final vote in September. If passed, the city’s law enforcement agencies will be banned from utilizing facial recognition tools.

Prior to the vote, Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan argued that a ban was necessary due to the technology’s limitations as well as its potential for abuse.

The technology has been widely criticized by civil liberties groups for its inaccuracy, especially when identifying people of color–leading many to believe that facial recognition tools should not be deployed. While testing such software last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that 28 members of Congress were incorrectly identified as other people.

Those issues and others led San Francisco to become the first city in the nation to ban the use of facial recognition by city officials in May. The city of Somerville in Massachusetts also voted to ban the use of facial recognition by city officials a month later.

In a rare sign of bipartisanship, Republicans and Democrats also warned against the dangers of facial recognition surveillance during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in May.

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H/T Cnet
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*First Published: Jul 17, 2019, 5:50 pm