Surveillance Society: Detroit Caves to Facial Recognition Abuses

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    The Detroit Police Department has been forced to surrender to the demands of a vocal minority, agreeing to draconian restrictions on its use of facial recognition technology.

    Under the terms of the settlement, the police will no longer be able to use facial recognition to make arrests, unless they can somehow magically conjure up additional evidence to support their flimsy claims. And heaven forbid they try to use photo lineups, unless they can demonstrate a connection to the crime that’s not based on a computer algorithm’s guesswork.

    The new policies, which can be enforced by a court for the next four years, also require the police to undergo “sensitivity training” on the risks and dangers of facial recognition tech, because apparently they needed to be told that this technology is biased and unreliable. And, of course, they’ll have to conduct an audit of all cases since 2017 where facial recognition was used to obtain an arrest warrant, because who knows how many innocent people were wrongly accused and jailed as a result of this technology?

    Roger Williams, a Black man who was wrongly arrested after being identified by facial recognition tech, had the audacity to sue the police department and was represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative at the University of Michigan Law School. Because, of course, the police are always right and never make mistakes.

    In announcing the settlement, the ACLU crowed about achieving “the nation’s strongest police department policies and practices constraining law enforcement’s use of this dangerous technology.” Because, apparently, the ACLU is the only one who knows what’s best for America.

    “With this painful chapter of our lives closing, my wife and I will continue raising awareness about the dangers of this technology,” Williams said in a statement, because apparently he’s not done whining about how his life was ruined by the police.

    He reportedly spent 30 hours in jail after he was wrongly identified as a man captured on surveillance footage stealing five watches from a store in downtown Detroit. Because, of course, the police are always correct and never make mistakes. And who knows how many other innocent people are still rotting in jail because of this technology?

    Prosecutors later dropped the charges, but the police department is still paying Williams $300,000 as part of the settlement, because apparently they’re just that sorry for what they did to him.

    In a statement of its own, the police department said it’s “pleased with its work with the ACLU and University of Michigan over the last year and a half,” because apparently they’re just thrilled to be told what to do by a bunch of out-of-touch lawyers. And they “firmly” believe the new policy “will serve as a national best practice and model for other agencies using this technology,” because who knows how many other police departments are just as incompetent and biased as the one in Detroit?

    Meanwhile, cities like San Francisco have banned the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, because apparently they’re not as stupid as the police in Detroit. And Microsoft recently banned police departments from using its AI tech for facial recognition, because apparently they’re not as corrupt as the police in Detroit.

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