Sign In

Communications of the ACM

ACM News

Activists Turn Facial Recognition Tools Against the Police


View as: Print Mobile App Share: Send by email Share on reddit Share on StumbleUpon Share on Hacker News Share on Tweeter Share on Facebook
Self-taught coder Christopher Howell.

Accountability is important, said Christopher Howell, who tapped his knowledge of neural net technology after police tear-gassed him at a protest in Portland, OR. We need to know who is doing what, so we can deal with it.

Credit: Mason Trinca/The New York Times

In early September, the City Council in Portland, OR, met virtually to consider sweeping legislation outlawing the use of facial recognition technology. The bills would not only bar the police from using it to unmask protesters and individuals captured in surveillance imagery; they would also prevent companies and a variety of other organizations from using the software to identify an unknown person.

During the time for public comments, a local man, Christopher Howell, said he had concerns about a blanket ban. He gave a surprising reason.

"I am involved with developing facial recognition to in fact use on Portland police officers, since they are not identifying themselves to the public," Mr. Howell said. Over the summer, with the city seized by demonstrations against police violence, leaders of the department had told uniformed officers that they could tape over their name. Mr. Howell wanted to know: Would his use of facial recognition technology become illegal?

Portland's mayor, Ted Wheeler, told Mr. Howell that his project was "a little creepy," but a lawyer for the city clarified that the bills would not apply to individuals. The Council then passed the legislation in a unanimous vote.

 

From The New York Times
View Full Article

 


 

No entries found