As with many products, this technology was designed with white men as the standard, making the rest of us—women and BIPOC community members—deviations from the norm, and more likely to be misidentified and potentially harmed by this technology.
Facial recognition is a runaway train, running over our rights and endangering our communities in the name of profit, using fear as fuel. They claim their technology will make us safer. 1984 by George Orwell is a dystopian novel, not a business plan. A cursory search yields numerous accounts of misidentifications and rampant abuse. Including the Clearview scandal which revealed that although they claimed their technology would only be provided to law enforcement they were in fact allowing their wealthy investors to use it as a personal spy toy. They were also caught scraping social media for photos to add to their database. And in Maryland, ICE used facial recognition technology on millions of driver's photos without a court order.
These are unacceptable and irresponsible practices. These companies should be ashamed of themselves for unleashing this flawed technology on our communities, further endangering some of our most vulnerable community members. How many times have we heard of wrongful arrests, assaults, convictions and deaths of Black boys and men because they "resembled" a suspect? Technology should not amplify existing bias and perpetuate racism, it can and should be a tool to help solve for these social ills. There are glimmers of hope—IBM is getting out of the facial recognition business—and others are making more minor course corrections. I encourage all of them to withdraw their fatally flawed products from the market and to get out of the business, in the meantime, they can get out of our city.
I am grateful to Commissioner Hardesty and Mayor Wheeler for developing and advancing these items. We join just a handful of major American cities that have banned facial recognition technology, and I hope that our actions here today inspire more cities to take up this issue. I am proud to be a member of a Council and a resident of a city that is putting our community members' safety, privacy, and civil rights before corporate profit.