Oakland Bans Facial Recognition Technology

Oakland has become the second California city and the third nationwide to ban the use of facial recognition technology by government and law enforcement officials. Berkeley may be next.

Oakland’s City Council passed the ban unanimously over the objections of Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

“Not only does the technology pose the risk that people will be misidentified as wanted criminals, but it’s disproportionately black people and women who are misidentified,” said Council President Rebecca Kaplan.

Opponents of facial recognition technology argue it is inaccurate and implicitly biased against races and genders, an argument supported by several studies. They are also extremely concerned about the privacy implications.

On the other hand, public safety advocates say these bans amount to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

“OPD does not currently possess real-time (or any) facial recognition technology (FRT) and has no immediate plans to purchase FRT,” Chief Kirkpatrick wrote in a memo. “However, staff does believe that Oakland’s current surveillance technology provides adequate thresholds for reviewing any possible future requests to test or purchase FRT. Staff also believes that non-real-time FRT, if deployed with proper safeguards, can provide important benefits to law enforcement. Non-real time FRT cannot be used to connect people as they go about their normal course of life and business.”

Kirkpatrick concluded by warning that such a ban “may limit the ability of OPD’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID) to solve homicide, robbery and other violent crimes in the future.”

Read more at Governing.

See also:

Op-Ed: Banning Facial Recognition Technology is the Wrong Way to Go


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