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Why Some Cities Are Banning Facial Recognition Technology

A handful of US cities have banned government use of facial recognition technology due to concerns over its accuracy and privacy. WIRED’s Tom Simonite talks with computer vision scientist and lawyer Gretchen Greene about the controversy surrounding the use of this technology.

HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT FACIAL RECOGNITION
IS EVERYWHERE AT THE MOMENT?
IT’S HOW WE UNLOCK OUR PHONES, TAG PEOPLE ON FACEBOOK,
AND AT SOME US AIRPORTS, IT’S BEING USED TO SPEED UP
THE PROCESS OF BOARDING AN AIRCRAFT.
BUT THERE ARE ALSO CONCERNS ABOUT THIS TECHNOLOGY AS WELL FROM LAWMAKERS AND CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS.
I’M HERE WITH GRETCHEN GREENE, A COMPUTER VISION EXPERT
AND LAWYER, WHO’S GOING TO HELP US UNDERSTAND THIS TECHNOLOGY, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US GRETCHEN.
HI TOM, GREAT TO BE HERE.
THE USES THAT ARE REALLY DRIVING
THE PUBLIC DEBATE RIGHT NOW, ARE AROUND
THE GOVERNMENT USES, AND SO WE’VE SEEN
THAT THE CITY OF SAN FRANCISCO WHERE WE ARE NOW
RECENTLY BANNED USE OF FACIAL RECOGNITION
BY IT’S AGENCIES, OAKLAND ACROSS THE BAY,
DID SO TOO, AND SO DID SOME OF LOWER MASSACHUSETTS.
IT’S VERY UNUSUAL FOR A GOVERNMENT AT ANY LEVEL
TO COMPLETELY BAN A TECHNOLOGY, WHAT’S DRIVING THIS?
RIGHT, SO ONE OF THE USES, OR MAYBE THE PRIMARY USE
THAT I THINK DRIVES THAT IS LAW ENFORCEMENT’S USE,
AND SO BESIDES IT BORDERS, IT’S ALSO LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
YOU’VE SEEN IT ON TV EPISODES,
WHERE ON CRIME SHOWS, THEY JUST SORT OF SEARCH,
AND IT’S LIKE, OH THAT’S WHO THAT IS,
ONE OF THE ISSUES IS HOW THAT INTERSECTS
WITH OVERALL SURVEILLANCE POSSIBILITIES.
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