You can’t go anywhere these days without multiple cameras pointing at you.

So is the surveillance worth the security that comes with it? Or is the constant onslaught of closed circuit video prying too far into our private lives?

Closed circuit television systems are turning up on every busy street in the country. (Pixabay)

 

City agencies and police may be fighting to overcome technology gaps if the attempt to ban facial recognition software passes in San Francisco.

According to reports from the Star Tribune, the California city is fighting against the growing power behind facial recognition technology. The highly accurate software is being employed in more and more public areas to help combat criminal activity and monitor for safety. 

A move to pass legislation aimed at regulating the use of surveillance by city departments will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. 

But if it passes, some say it won’t necessarily impede police work.

(Wikipedia Commons)

 

Officials from San Francisco PD say they stopped testing the advanced software back in 2017.

The Tribune notes that, “recent advances in artificial intelligence have created more sophisticated computer vision tools, making it easier for police to pinpoint a missing child or protester in a moving crowd or for retailers to analyze a shopper’s facial expressions as they peruse store shelves.”

The legislation is backed by Aaron Peskin, who says that it’s imperative to get citizen insight on the matter, considering the extreme potential for abuse. Plus, studies have shown that there are still many issues involved with the technology, especially when it comes to false positives.

Deeper analysis has shown that error rates in these systems built by Amazon, IBM and Microsoft were higher for darker-skinned individuals, adding to the controversy behind using the video tools for criminal investigations and legal proceedings. 

 

Matt Cagle is an attorney for the Northern California ACLU. He says that the technology poses major threats for tracking individuals, especially in a city known for its higher concentration of public protests. 

“If facial recognition were added to body cameras or public-facing surveillance feeds, it would threaten the ability of people to go to a protest or hang out in Dolores Park without having their identity tracked by the city,” Cagle said. 

Reports have recently surfaced that China is swarming with surveillance. ‘Every move’ is being captured, allowing those with access to the footage and technology to retrace the steps of crime victims, wanted criminals and anyone of general interest. 

Critics have largely argued that too much government monitoring is dangerous to society, denying citizens their right to privacy.

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So the question is — do the benefits outweigh the negatives?

Is foiling a potential terror attack on U.S. soil and saving lives worth keeping tabs on all Americans? Or should we pull back from this dystopian-tool before it becomes the norm?

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