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facial recognition

African American man with facial recognition scan
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The Detroit Police Department’s use of facial recognition will continue uninterrupted after a contentious City Council vote.

The board approved a two-year $220,000 maintenance contract with DataWorks Plus - the software developer of the technology. The vote followed a sustained campaign by activists calling to ‘defund the police’ by targeting DPD’s surveillance programs. Tawana Petty spoke out against the contract during council public comment.

City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said on Thursday that the Detroit Police Department and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office will be reviewing the events that led to the arrest of Robert Williams.

In January, Williams was arrested and held for more than a day on charges of larceny, despite the police only having a facial recognition technology match with an old driver's license photo. That match turned out to be false.

When asked about the case, Duggan said, “I’m very angry about that case, and join Prosecutor (Kym) Worthy in my apology to Mr. Williams. But you have to think of the case, and the case, in my mind, is about subpar detective work, and subpar warrant prosecutor work.”

ACLU of Michigan

Robert Williams of Farmington Hills was arrested and held for more than a day in January, on larceny charges that he stole Shinola watches from a downtown Detroit store.

But Williams says he was innocent, and the only evidence police ever had against him was a facial recognition technology “match” of his old driver’s license photo against grainy surveillance footage of the real thief.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA)
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Today on Stateside, we heard about the latest update on a lawsuit filed in 2015 on behalf of the tens of thousands of Michiganders wrongly accused of filing fraudulent unemployment claims. Plus, the new director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency talked about her plan to get more of Michigan's 600,000 vets connected to the benefits they need.

African American man with facial recognition scan
Pro-stock Studio / Adobe Stock

A bill recently passed in the state Senate would prevent law enforcement from using facial recognition technology.

Republican Senator Peter Lucido is a bill sponsor. He says technology is developing faster than state laws.

“This is just a law to catch up to what it is that is going on. People are being searched without any warrant based on electronics,” Lucido said.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan wants to know more about how facial recognition technology is being used by the state.

It submitted two Freedom of Information Act requests on Thursday, one to the Michigan State Police and the other to the Michigan Secretary of State's Office.

The MSP maintains a comprehensive database called the Statewide Network of Agency Photos (SNAP).  SNAP contains about 50 million photos, including every Michigan driver's license and state ID photo. It also includes mugshots and Michigan Department of Corrections photos. There can be multiple images of the same person.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

After months of debate and public protest, Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners approved a policy for police use of facial recognition software by an 8-3 vote on Thursday.

The vote came after Detroit Police submitted a revised proposal that addressed some of the concerns that commissioners and activists had with facial recognition.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As Detroit Police commissioners are scheduled to vote on a policy governing police use of facial recognition technology this week, the ACLU of Michigan and other civil rights groups are urging them to reject it.

The groups also sent a Freedom of Information Act request for records on how Detroit Police have used facial recognition software. The department has used the software to help identify criminal suspects for nearly two years, without a formal oversight policy.

surveillance camera
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The new school year is here and safety is top of mind at many districts in Michigan. In recent years, school shootings across the country pushed a number of communities to fund major security overhauls.

In some districts, video software similar to controversial facial recognition technology is part of the plan.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Police Department has proposed a new policy for using facial recognition technology, but it’s already opposed by a coalition of civil rights groups.

DPD has been using facial recognition without a formal oversight policy in place for more than a year. The department withdrew an initial proposed policy after the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners tabled a vote on it in June, and submitted a revised version in its place last week.

The Detroit Police Department wants to expand its use of the city's growing network of high-definition surveillance cameras. And they're asking for $4 million to help them do it. That's in spite of objections from critics who say that law enforcement's use of facial recognition and video surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment.

Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek joins us to talk about why the police want more funding for video surveillance, and why their use of the technology has been so controversial.

John Seung-Hwan Shin / Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan publicly clarified his stance on police use of facial recognition technology Thursday, as his police chief tried to quell some skepticism from members Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners about the controversial technology.

“The Detroit Police Department has not and will not use facial recognition technology for surveillance,” Duggan said in a statement put out on social media. “No one is watching you on any camera in this city with facial recognition software. I will not support the software ever being used in that way.”

African American man with facial recognition scan
Pro-stock Studio / Adobe Stock



Today on Stateside, another attempt by the RTA to bring coordinated mass transit to Southeast Michigan. Plus, the Detroit Police Department’s attempts to fund facial recognition surveillance sparks criticism. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners opted to postone a vote on police guidelines for using facial recognition technology Thursday.

Detroit already uses facial recognition technology through its Project Green Light program at more than 500 privately-owned locations. The city credits the Green Light program with reducing crime around those locations, though skeptics question whether there’s enough solid data to support the conclusion that Green Light is causing the crime drop, instead of other factors.

Public domain

U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib wants law enforcement to stop using facial recognition software to identify criminal suspects.

A report from the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology found Detroit is one of the first and largest cities to use the technology.

The report also says the software makes mistakes, especially when it's used to identify people with darker skin. Those mistakes can lead to false arrests. 

John Seung-Hwan Shin / Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en


U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Justin Amash raised questions this week in a hearing about the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies, including Detroit Police Department.

The hearing was held Wednesday by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

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Delta Airlines will officially introduce facial recognition software for passengers on international flights at Detroit Metro Airport in early 2019.

The airline rolled out the software at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday.

Trebor Banstetter, a director of communications at Delta, says the decision to make Detroit the second place to use facial recognition was a natural one. They've been testing it out at the airport since July.