A national investigation found that Wisconsin police departments had been using facial recognition software created by Clearview AI.

Face recognition is a biometric technology that uses a face or the image of a face to identify or verify the identity of an individual in photos, video, or in real-time. It is commonly used by law enforcement and private businesses. Face recognition systems depend on databases of individuals’ images to train their underlying algorithms. Face recognition can be applied retroactively to video footage and photographs, it can be used in coordination with other surveillance technologies and databases when creating profiles of individuals, including those who may never have been involved in a crime. It can facilitate the tracking of individuals across video feeds and can be integrated into camera systems and other technologies, as we have seen at sporting events in the United States.  

Biometric Surveillance Technology

Face recognition can be prone to failures in its design and in its use, which can implicate people for crimes they haven’t committed and make people into targets of unwarranted or dangerous retaliation. Facial recognition software is particularly bad at recognizing African Americans and other ethnic minorities, women, young people, and transgender and nonbinary individuals. People in these demographic groups are especially at risk of being misidentified by this technology and are disparately impacted by its use. Face recognition contributes to the mass surveillance of individuals, neighborhoods, and populations that have historically been targeted by unfair policing practices, and it  has been used to target people engaging in protected speech and alienate perceived enemies. 

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This technology is only one reason why we need a Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS) ordinance. CCOPS would require oversight and community input in invasive surveillance technologies, allowing the Wisconsinites being surveilled to make informed decisions about their privacy.

Milwaukee deserves to know how the police are surveilling us. Milwaukee needs CCOPS.