Thank Kade Crockford for driving the ban of facial recognition tech in cities

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The activist has become one of the leading proponents of enhancing our privacy and safety by abolishing the technology that would imperil both. According to activist Kade Crockford, widespread use of face surveillance—in which algorithms match real-time and historical video data to people’s identities—would “obliterate privacy and anonymity in public as we know it.” That’s why they have organized local support and worked with seven Massachusetts cities over the past year and a half to enact preemptive bans against the technology. As big tech companies continued to pitch their facial recognition algorithms to police departments, Crockford convinced local police chiefs of the need to prevent face surveillance from being used in their communities, and in June, succeeded in banning the tech in Boston. Crockford is eyeing statewide policy, and people have been reaching out about emulating these efforts elsewhere. “This is not a controversial issue for voters,” says Crockford, who has been focused on surveillance issues for a decade. “People don’t want the government to be tracking them by their face every time they leave their house.” Read Full Story

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In historic first, Portland bans corporations from using facial recognition tech on the public

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But Portland residents can still use facial recognition tech, like the kind found in iPhones and Nest cameras. Over the past year, several U.S. cities have taken steps to ban or limit the use of facial recognition technology to surveil people. Yet these bans were only applied to government departments and police. As of today, Portland, Oregon, has surpassed those bans in an effort to protect its citizens from surveillance. Read Full Story

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Now Microsoft is banning police from using its facial recognition tech, too

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Microsoft wants “a national law in place ground in human rights” to govern the use of facial recognition tech before it will sell such technology to the police. This week has been a big one for facial recognition news. First, IBM announced they will be getting out of the facial recognition tools game altogether, and then Amazon announced it is placing a moratorium on selling its facial recognition tools to police for one year. Both moves were sparked by the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of white police officers. Facial recognition technology has frequently been found to be racially biased . Read Full Story

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IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon’s face recognition bans don’t go far enough

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While these tech giants may have stepped back from facial recognition, their bans don’t encompass other technology they supply for police or square with their past lobbying and legislative efforts. Advocates against flawed facial recognition systems have pushed for limits or bans on the use of these controversial technologies by law enforcement for at least four years. Now, amid a global reckoning around racial injustice spurred by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft declared decisions to end or pause sales of their facial recognition products to law enforcement. Read Full Story

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Facial recognition technology is inevitable—it’s time we make it human-centered

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As big tech companies press pause on developing this surveillance tool, others are racing to commercialize it. On the back of the Black Lives Matters movement, IBM decided to get out of the facial recognition (FR) business altogether. Amazon announced a one-year moratorium on police use of its FR software, Rekognition, and Microsoft declared that it would do the same until there is a federal law to regulate the technology. Read Full Story

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Microsoft President Brad Smith isn’t afraid to do what’s right—for his workers, or you

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For standing up for workers’ well-being and consumers’ right to privacy, Microsoft President Brad Smith is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2020. Well before tech giants instituted moratoriums on selling facial recognition technology to police in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Microsoft president Brad Smith argued in his 2019 book, Tools and Weapons , that legislation was required to ensure ethical use of the tech. A 23-year Microsoft veteran, Smith also wrote that companies should protect mobile-device privacy, limit government access to customers’ data, and consider the ramifications of AI replacing people’s jobs. As the COVID-19 crisis presented unprecedented challenges to work and business, he has continued to lead by example. Read Full Story

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Microsoft needs to stop selling surveillance to the NYPD

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Microsoft’s decision not to sell facial recognition to the police means nothing if the company won’t stop selling the Orwellian Domain Awareness System to the New York Police Department. When Microsoft announced to much fanfare that they wouldn’t sell police facial recognition, almost no one asked the urgent follow-up question: “What about your other surveillance technology?” The truth is that Microsoft wasn’t selling police facial recognition to begin with, so their “principled stand” was nothing more than free PR. But there is a much less well-known system that Microsoft has sold to police for years, one that is even worse than facial recognition: The Domain Awareness System (DAS). Read Full Story

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These are 8 simple reforms mayors could make to start to reduce police violence

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8 Can’t Wait, from Deray Mckesson’s Campaign Zero, offers a quick blueprint for simple use-of-force policies that have been associated with fewer deaths. In many cities in the U.S., police departments don’t have a ban on chokeholds and strangleholds—despite the fact that the practice can seriously injure or kill civilians. In cities that do have these bans, police officers have killed 22% fewer people. Similarly, many cities don’t have a policy that requires officers to make a report every time they use or threaten to use force against civilians. There’s a 25% gap in police killings between cities that do and don’t have that policy. Read Full Story

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