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US local and state leaders push for police use of facial recognition

US local and state leaders push for police use of facial recognition

New Orleans ban on the police use of facial recognition has been reversed.

The city council this week returned use of the surveillance tool, rejecting claims by some residents, equity proponents and privacy advocates that the algorithms are biased in favor of middle-aged white males and strip people of the anonymity of being in a crowd.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a statement celebrating the reversal.

Cantrell said the software “represents a tremendous stride towards greater public safety.” It will “take dangerous criminals off our streets.”

Two councilors refused to support the reinstatement when an amendment to protect some populations and add accountability was removed from the ordinance.

The stipulation would have mandated reports on the system’s effectiveness. It also would have prohibited cameras being used to identify same-sex couples and people seeking abortions.

Farther north, Montana state leaders are considering new regulations on the use of facial recognition.

According to reporting by the Independent Record, proposed language would allow police to use the algorithms while investing a “serious crime” including deliberate homicide and assault with a weapon.

Montana’s Labor Department uses ID.me in verifying the identities of people collecting unemployment benefits. And the department of prisons uses facial recognition to monitor the compliance of offenders on probation and parole. In both cases, according to the newspaper, a third-party vendor operates the system and holds the data.

The state’s chief information security officer has told lawmakers not to act rashly, that biometric data is unique and uniquely capable of upending lives when misused.

As almost goes without saying, a lack of federal leadership on this topic in the United States is creating a mess of jurisdictional policies. California also is moving to harden the battle lines over facial recognition.

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