A proposal to limit the use of facial recognition technology came about as a follow-up to the council's passage of a Use of Surveillance Policy ordinance earlier this summer. It has already raised concerns in the Madison Police Department.
(TNS) — Two
Facial recognition systems use computerized pattern-matching technology to automatically identify peoples' faces. It can be used by police to help catch those involved in crimes such as child sex abuse, child pornography and human trafficking, but the technology also raises questions of free speech, privacy and racial bias.
A typical facial recognition system uses the layout of a subject's facial features, and their relative distance to one another, for identification comparison based against a separate image, or perhaps against thousands or even millions of separate images in a database or gallery of faces, the
Some cities, such as
The ordinance exempts programs that are used to open/activate devices, like a cell phone, and programs used to comply with the National Child Search Assistance Act.
"The main concern driving this proposal is the protection of civil liberties and privacy," Kemble said. "We do not want
The proposal came about as a proactive follow-up to the council's passage of a Use of Surveillance Policy ordinance earlier this summer, Kemble said. The work group developing that ordinance began to talk about face recognition technology near the end of its deliberations and agreed that it needed its own proposal, she said.
"Thus far we aren't aware of any department directly employing face recognition technology," she said. "But the departments that might utilize it in the future are all those that utilize cameras. This includes traffic engineering, water utility, police,
The proposal has already raised concerns in the
"We do currently work with external partners to use facial recognition technology, primarily to address human trafficking, child pornography and other Internet crimes against children," Acting Police Chief
Wahl said there are other potential future uses of facial recognition that can greatly improve community safety without implicating any privacy concerns.
"I would certainly support a deliberative process to review the technology and related issues, and determine the best course forward for the city and MPD," Wahl said, noting the current ordinance on surveillance technology was the result of a multi-year process with a council president's workgroup that took a lot of time to talk to agencies, review information and collaboratively put together an ordinance.
"While I'm not 100% a fan of the final product, the process itself was thoughtful and a good model for how to approach this kind of topic/legislation," he said. "That type of process did not occur with this ordinance."
The proposal by Prestigiacomo and Kemble would exempt:
The ordinance must comply with the National Child Search Assistance Act.
"This is very new and constantly evolving technology, certainly new to us," Wahl said. "I've already recognized the need for an internal policy and we are in the early stages of researching one. I think (the
The proposal was introduced to the
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