Detroit Police Agrees to Restrict Facial Recognition Technology Use


As part of a recent settlement, the Detroit Police Department has implemented new policies governing the use of facial recognition technology. The agreement, which can be enforced for the next four years, prohibits law enforcement from making arrests based solely on facial recognition search results or conducting photo lineups solely on the basis of these searches.

The policies also require the department to provide training on the risks and dangers of facial recognition technology and conduct an audit of all cases since 2017 where facial recognition was used to obtain an arrest warrant.

The settlement came after Roger Williams, a Black man who was wrongly identified and arrested using facial recognition technology, filed a lawsuit against the department. Williams, who was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative at the University of Michigan Law School, was arrested for a crime he did not commit after a facial recognition search matched his driver’s license photo to a surveillance footage suspect.

Williams spent 30 hours in jail before prosecutors dropped the charges, and he received a $300,000 settlement from the police department as part of the agreement. The ACLU described the settlement as achieving “the nation’s strongest police department policies and practices constraining law enforcement’s use of this dangerous technology.”

The department said it is “pleased with its work with the ACLU and University of Michigan over the last year and a half,” and believes the new policy will serve as a national best practice and model for other agencies using facial recognition technology.

Several cities, including San Francisco, have banned the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, and Microsoft has recently prohibited police departments from using its AI tech for facial recognition.

Anthony Ha
Anthony Ha
Weekend Editor. Previously, Anthony worked as a tech writer at Adweek, a senior editor at the tech blog VentureBeat, a local government reporter at the Hollister Free Lance, and vice president of content at a venture capital firm. He lives in New York City.

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