New bill would prevent use of facial recognition technology in Detroit

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Posted at 12:50 PM, Jul 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 12:50:06-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — State Rep. Isaac Robinson introduced a bill which would prevent use of facial recognition technology.

House Bill 4810 would create a five-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement.

Facial recognition software can match faces to driver's license photos and mug shots in a matter of minutes.

Some Detroit residents fear that the software is less accurate at correctly identifying people with darker skin colors.

“Research has already shown that facial recognition technology has significant difficulty identifying and recognizing African-American faces, leading to an unacceptable bias against these communities across the nation. Having one of the largest African American populations in the country, Detroit is no exception,” Robinson said in a release. “It is completely unconscionable to ask our families to sacrifice our freedoms for a policy that has the potential to put so many residents at risk. My bill will combat this by preventing law enforcement from using inherently flawed facial recognition software to analyze and identify people. We must reverse the dangerous trend of using technology that intrudes on our privacy and violates our Fourth Amendment rights.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, however, says these claims are misleading because that will not be how the city is using it.

"There will be no facial recognition software used with live stream video by the Detroit Police Department," Duggan said.

A vote on the DPD's use of facial recognition technology was postponed for further discussion. The department has used facial recognition for about a year under standard operation procedures, but no formal policy has been put in place.

HB 4810 will prevent the use of the software to obtain warrants or otherwise enforce the law. The prohibition includes footage from surveillance cameras, unmanned aircraft, body cameras and street and traffic light cameras.

The bill was co-sponsored by state Reps. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) and Jewell Jones (D-Inkster).