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Oakland Becomes Second City to Ban Facial Recognition Technology

However, some other organizations supporting the technology argued that the ban would hurt the law-enforcing capabilities of police officers when they are called for help

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A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate (Representational image). VOA

The city of Oakland in Northern California has become the second Bay Area city to outlaw the use of facial recognition technology by municipal agencies following a unanimous vote by its council to approve the ban.

The City Council of Oakland passed unanimously an ordinance to prohibit municipal agencies including city police from acquiring or using facial technology in law enforcement. A final vote on the legislation, which is widely seen as procedural, will take place in September this year.

Rebecca Kaplan, President of Oakland City Council, who introduced the ordinance, said in a tweet on Wednesday that she appreciated everyone’s effort to join “together in working to block flawed technology that invades privacy and worsens racial disparities in policing,” Xinhua news agency reported.

The latest legislation made Oakland the second Bay Area city to forbid the controversial technology after San Francisco adopted a similar ban in May 2019. Oakland is also the third US city to declare facial technology illegal following a decision by Somerville city in Massachusetts to join the rank of San Francisco in June.

The ordinance called facial recognition technology “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual based on an individual’s face”.

Kaplan said the powerful technology runs the risk of making Oakland residents less safe because it is often inaccurate, invasive and lacks established ethical standards with high possibilities of being abused by government agencies.

An Apple employee demonstrates the facial recognition feature of the new iPhone X at the Apple Union Square store in San Francisco. VOA

On Tuesday, a California rights advocacy group urged Oakland city to ban the use of facial technology, which it claimed would “lead to new violations of civil rights”.

The Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nationwide non-profit fighting for individual rights, wrote a letter to the members of the Oakland City Council, urging the city to pass the ordinance to protect Oakland residents from “dangerous, invasive, and biased systems that endanger their civil rights and safety.”

Also Read: Government Seeks Reply From TikTok, Asks to Answer Queries or Face Ban

The ACLU of Northern Northern California on Wednesday welcomed Oakland’s legislation. Matt Cagle, the organization’s civil liberties attorney, said Oakland’s decision indicated how “democracy can work to protect civil rights”.

“Decisions about surveillance technology are being made by the public and impacted communities through their elected representatives — not by police or vendors acting alone and in secret,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

However, some other organizations supporting the technology argued that the ban would hurt the law-enforcing capabilities of police officers when they are called for help. (IANS)

Next Story

Seattle Airport To Introduce Facial-Recognition Technology For Travellers

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) will introduce facial-recognition technology

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Seattle Airport
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) will introduce facial-recognition technology for international travellers. Wikimedia Commons

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) in the US state of Washington will introduce facial-recognition technology for international travellers by the year end, a Seattle-based newspaper has reported.

Travellers of the US Delta Air Lines, Sea-Tac’s second-largest carrier, will be able to board a plane by scanning their faces at the airport to speed up the boarding process, after their faces match with their visa or passport photos stored in the database of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), The Seattle Times said.

The newspaper said Delta, which will become the first air carrier to adopt the new technology, is planning to use facial-recognition cameras to confirm international travellers’ identities at its Sea-Tac gates in late December 2019, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Airport technology
The Seattle Airport will be the first one in USA that will have a facial-recognition camera by the year end. Pixabay

Delta has installed facial-recognition cameras in six airports in the country, and insisted that the new technology was aimed to deliver better customer service “by eliminating the need to juggle luggage, passports and boarding passes.”

Also Read- TikTok Security Concerns Raised By U.S. Army

The Seattle daily said a five-member commission will meet in mid-December to vote on principles concerning the use of facial recognition at Sea-Tac. (IANS)