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Michigan City Council orders comprehensive facial recognition policy for local police

Michigan City Council orders comprehensive facial recognition policy for local police

In a move aimed at safeguarding civil liberties, the City Council of Ann Arbor in Michigan has taken a decisive step to limit the use of facial recognition by law enforcement agencies. The decision, made on June 3, signifies a growing concern over the potential threats posed by such technology to individual rights, MLive reports.

The unanimous vote by the City Council directs City Administrator Milton Dohoney to work in conjunction with the Ann Arbor Police Department to formulate a comprehensive policy. This policy aims to ensure that facial recognition technology is utilized solely as a supplementary tool for investigations, rather than being relied upon as the primary method for identification, arrest, or prosecution. Facial recognition is not considered probable cause for an arrest anywhere in the United States.

The resolution passed by the council underscores some of the privacy infringements and civil rights implications associated with the widespread adoption of facial recognition technology.

Notably, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has documented six cases of wrongful arrests resulting from facial recognition mismatches, five of the incidents affecting Black individuals. While an earlier study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2019 identified racial and gender biases within certain facial recognition algorithms, subsequent research has indicated improvements in addressing these issues. However, recent events have underscored the potential for misuse of such technology.

Meanwhile in Indiana, during a news conference on Tuesday, Chief of Police Phil Smith disclosed that an officer from the Evansville Police Department has resigned following an audit revealing the personal use of Clearview AI facial recognition technology over several months. This revelation has prompted the department to implement stricter safeguards to prevent future abuses of facial recognition software, wevv reveals.

Elsewhere, early last month, civil rights organizations in New York are also campaigning for a statewide ban on the use of facial recognition and other biometric technologies by law enforcement, residential buildings, public accommodations and schools. Similar proposals have been enacted and then reversed elsewhere in the U.S.

Digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is, additionally, calling on the U.S. government to limit governmental use of facial recognition technology.

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