Facial Recognition Tech Falsely Identifies CA Lawmakers As Criminals

Facial recognition technology was recently tested on California State Legislative members. Reportedly that test falsely identified 26 of the 120 lawmaker photographs in the test run as matches for photos in a crime database.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California released the test results in an effort to show that facial recognition technology is not very accurate. In fact, more than half of those falsely identified are lawmakers of color, which opponents of the technology say illustrates the risks involved and the inevitable erosion of civil liberties if it's used in law enforcement proceedings. A similar test conducted last year by the ACLU misidentified 28 sitting members of Congress as criminals.

California Assemblyman Phil Ting is a co-sponsor for AB 1215, a bill which would ban the use of facial recognition technology in law enforcement body cameras. The Democrat from San Francisco was one of the 26 state lawmakers wrongfully identified.

"This experiment reinforces the fact that facial recognition software is not ready for prime time - let alone for use in body cameras worn by law enforcement," he said in response to the ACLU test results.

The technology has already been marketed to law enforcement.

Darryl Lucien from the LA Police Protective League counters Ting's argument by telling The Courthouse News Service that as camera technology improves, so can the facial recognition technology.

Cory Salzillo from the California State Sheriff's Association also cautioned, "(taking) away that tool we think has consequences that don't necessarily outweigh the perceived concerns."

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