Facial Recognition Test Falsely Identifies 26 Lawmakers As Criminals

On Tuesday, the ACLU’s Northern California branch released its findings from running photos of all 120 California state legislators against a database of 25,000 publicly available mugshots using common facial recognition software. The results were unsettling: the software identified 26 state legislators ― more than one in five ― as criminals. And a disproportionate number of those lawmakers were people of color.

The ACLU supports California legislation to ban such technology from being used on police body cameras. Though no police departments in the state do so, the bill’s author, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D), wants to get ahead of the issue.

At a press conference with ACLU officials on Tuesday, he said the test involving the lawmaker faces was conducted “as a demonstration about how this software is absolutely not ready for primetime.”


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