MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –The Minneapolis City Council has approved a new ordinance that bans the city from buying or using data derived from facial recognition technology.
Facial recognition technology is incredibly controversial: studies show that it is significantly less accurate when identifying people of color and women. The council says they are concerned that in crime-fighting scenarios, the technology could lead to wrongful arrests of those in already disadvantaged communities.
Residents were uneasy, the council added, that the technology could be used to capture people’s faces without their consent.
“We have heard strong concerns from community about technology that invades their privacy without their consent, and we need to regulate it,” said Council Member Steve Fletcher, who wrote the ordinance. He added the technology “works pretty well if you look like me – a middle-aged white man – but for everyone else, it can fail at rates that we would not accept anywhere else.”
The ordinance has very few exceptions; if city departments want to use the technology, them must request it through a publicly transparent process.
More than a dozen other cities have either banned or limited the use of facial recognition technology, including Boston and San Francisco.