Chicago Police Rebuke Efforts To End Use Of Facial Recognition Technology

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There are new calls to end the use of facial recognition technology in Chicago, as dozens of groups joined the American Civil Liberties Union to say the practice violates privacy and is biased against minorities.

A coalition of 75 groups known as Press Pause Chicago arrived at City Hall Tuesday morning with a petition for Mayor Lori Lightfoot. They said a moratorium on facial recognition technology is the only way to prevent racial bias and privacy violations.

“We can see the terrible trajectory that this kind of technology leads us down,” said Muhammad Sankari of the Arab American Action Network. “That’s why we’re calling for the Mayor to outright ban its use in the City of Chicago.”

The Chicago Police Department now uses a photo matching software called Clearview to search social media images to identify potential suspects; even though the department said it strictly uses the process to solve crimes that have already been reported.

“We do not crowd search,” CPD Interim Superintendent Charlie Beck said last week. “We do not violate peoples’ first amendment rights.”

Illinois law prohibits businesses and governments from storing biometric data without permission.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying:

“We have been assured repeatedly by the Chicago Police Department and the relevant vendors that the Department does not utilize any live Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) or software, which uses dynamic algorithms in video technology to identify individuals in a live or real-time environment.

The CPD uses a facial matching tool to sort through its mugshot database and public source information in the course of an investigation triggered by an incident or crime, allowing the Department to speed up the sorting of thousands of mugshot photos when there is a possible comparator image. 

From early on in our administration, we have conferred with a range of stakeholders. We will now formalize those discussions through the creation of a working group consisting of public safety leaders, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to conduct an immediate review of the City’s current use of this technology.”

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