Campaigners block use of facial recognition and ICE access to data

A long-running programme in San Diego has been halted amid privacy concerns and claims of bias

girl having her face scanned

Activists have claimed victory in a long-running battle with US law enforcement to stop one of the most sophisticated and far-reaching facial recognition programmes.

A facial recognition system used by more than 30 agencies across San Diego, California will be suspended on 1 January 2020, according to a new agenda published by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The technology is deployed by police officers in body-worn cameras and handheld devices. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

Campaigners with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have also celebrated the fact that SANDAG had disabled US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) access to law enforcement databases and computer systems.

EFF had previously lobbied to restrict ICE access to law enforcement databases, especially after it was revealed that the immigration agents were using facial recognition technology.

San Diego’s programme was launched in 2012, and provided more than a thousand facial recognition devices including phones and tablets to numerous agencies. EFF claims that officers conducted more than 65,000 scans with these devices between 2016 and 2018.

Suspension of the campaign, however, means SANDAG will not renew its contract with the vendor, FaceFirst, when their agreement expires in March next year.

The campaigners’ opposition to facial recognition centre on the argument that historical biases are entrenched and exacerbated through applying the technology, particularly across ethnic minority communities.

Related Resource

Understanding the must-haves of modern data protection

Go beyond traditional backup and recovery

Download now

There have also been claims that the technology itself is not accurate, which can also leave systems open to abuse.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

In New York, for instance, police officers had clumsily abused the technology to facilitate arrests when CCTV images were too unclear to identify the suspect in particular investigations.

The idea has been tested periodically in the UK over the last few years, with police forces across the country keen to take advantage of its benefits for law enforcement. 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) stepped into the debate earlier this year, however, to warn police forces that the data protection risks must be assessed. The ICO added that any software deployed must guarantee that racial biases are eliminated. 

Featured Resources

Preparing for long-term remote working after COVID-19

Learn how to safely and securely enable your remote workforce

Download now

Cloud vs on-premise storage: What’s right for you?

Key considerations driving document storage decisions for businesses

Download now

Staying ahead of the game in the world of data

Create successful marketing campaigns by understanding your customers better

Download now

Transforming productivity

Solutions that facilitate work at full speed

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/business-strategy/careers-training/356422/ibm-job-ad-calls-for-12-year-experience-with-6-year-old
Careers & training

IBM job ad calls for 12-years of experience with six-year-old Kubernetes

13 Jul 2020
Visit/business/business-operations/356395/nvidia-overtakes-intel-as-most-valuable-us-chipmaker
Business operations

Nvidia overtakes Intel as most valuable US chipmaker

9 Jul 2020
Visit/security/cyber-attacks/356417/trump-confirms-cyber-attacks-on-russia-election-trolls
cyber attacks

Trump confirms US cyber attack on Russia election trolls

13 Jul 2020