Bernie Sanders has vowed he would stop law enforcement agencies from using facial recognition systems if elected president in 2020.
At a time when our privacy feels like it’s being violated more than ever, it’s nice to hear some politicians are wanting to revoke such invasive policies.
Facial recognition technology is used to analyse pictures and the live video of people’s faces in order to identify them. It has come under increased scrutiny over time from regulators, as noted by Recode.
Sanders is the first candidate in the US calling for a nationwide federal ban on facial recognition used by police. Research in 2016 published by The Guardian found the technology disproportionately targeted vulnerable minorities.
It’s part of the Senator’s plan to reform police in the country, including the introduction of federal standards for the use of body cameras.
Speaking to Recode about the campaign, a spokesperson for the Democrat nominee spoke about Bernie’s promises:
Police use of facial recognition software is the latest example of Orwellian technology that violates our privacy and civil liberties under the guise of public safety and it must stop… Bernie is proud to join cities like San Francisco in banning the use of this technology for policing, and as President will enact a nationwide ban on facial recognition software for policing, including at the state and local levels.
Three cities in the US have already banned the use of facial recognition by police and more are discussing enforcing similar restrictions. San Francisco, Oakland and Somerville, Massachusetts, have already implemented the ban, but there has been little discussed about making a nationwide ban.
Because Sanders has decided to put this issue at the forefront of his campaign, it demonstrates just how much of a concern the technology is for everyday Americans.
While he’s the first person to come out and propose a full ban, the issue has been discussed before by members of US politics. Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker joined with other senators by writing a letter to the Federal Trade Commission which raised concerns about racial bias in facial recognition algorithms.
It’s likely that other presidential candidates may propose a similar policy on facial recognition now that Bernie’s vow has been given such support. If it continues to be openly discussed, it might not be too long before all law enforcement agencies are forced to stop using such Orwellian technology.
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Matt Weston is a lover of electric cars, artificial intelligence and space. From Cornwall, he’s a UCLan graduate that still dreams of being a Formula One driver in the very near future. Previously work includes reporting for regional newspapers and freelance video for the International Business Times.