Anaheim Police to employ facial recognition software in pursuit of criminals

Facial recognition software - police with smartphone - technology
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Following a year and a half of pilot testing, city officials are prepared to invest in the technology.

Anaheim city officials are moving ahead with investments into facial recognition software for police use. The technology has undergone an 18-month pilot test phase, and the city wants to equip officers with its benefits.

The software allows police to compare criminal suspects against databases of mugshots.

A new report from Anaheim city staff detailed the cost, features and use for the facial recognition software. The city will be paying $35,000 per year to use the Veritone tech. This company is based in Costa Mesa, California. It is an artificial intelligence (AI) firm, and its solution is designed to help police to improve investigation efficiency, solve a larger number of cases, as well as “clear” people of their involvement in criminal activities.

City Council members voted on this technology agreement last week through their virtual, live-streamed meeting. Officials in favor of the use of the Identify technology have stated that it provides the city with a suspect recognition method that would not be “duplicated via traditional means.”

Anaheim began its pilot Veritone facial recognition software trial period back in 2017.

From the initial launch of that trial, the technology’s use in law enforcement has been associated with controversy and continues to be controversial today. In October 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would ban police from using biometric tracking and facial recognition technology on wearable camera footage for the following three years. The governor’s ban met strong opposition from several law enforcement unions. It went into effect at the start of 2020.

Similarly, a number of civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have opposed a proposed state Assembly bill that would form a legal framework for broadening the use of this type of tech for private companies and government agencies. The ACLU argues that this bill would disproportionately harm visible minorities. The bill is currently making its way through various State Legislature committees.

“Technology companies may promise theoretical and unproven public health benefits, but the reality is that facial recognition is already being used to harm Californians. ICE is taking advantage of state and private facial recognition systems to target immigrants,” read an ACLU coalition letter in opposition to the facial recognition software bill. “Police Facial recognition software - police with smartphone - technologyhave used it to target people of color. Governments are using it to oppress religious minorities and discourage free expression.”

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