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Activists Turn Facial Recognition Tools Against the Police


In early September, the City Council in Portland, Ore., met virtually to consider sweeping legislation outlawing the use of facial recognition technology. The bills would not only bar the police from using it to unmask protesters and individuals captured in surveillance imagery; they would also prevent companies and a variety of other organizations from using the software to identify an unknown person.

在征求公众意见期间,当地一名男子克里斯托弗·豪厄尔(Christopher Howell)表示,他对全面禁令表示担忧。他给出了一个令人惊讶的理由。

During the time for public comments, a local man, Christopher Howell, said he had concerns about a blanket ban. He gave a surprising reason.


“I am involved with developing facial recognition to in fact use on Portland police officers, since they are not identifying themselves to the public,” Mr. Howell said. Over the summer, with the city seized by demonstrations against police violence, leaders of the department had told uniformed officers that they could tape over their name. Mr. Howell wanted to know: Would his use of facial recognition technology become illegal?

波特兰市长特德·惠勒(Ted Wheeler)告诉豪厄尔,他的项目“有点令人毛骨悚然”,但该市的一位律师澄清说,这些法案不适用于个人。理事会随后以全票通过了这项立法。

Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, told Mr. Howell that his project was “a little creepy,” but a lawyer for the city clarified that the bills would not apply to individuals. The Council then passed the legislation in a unanimous vote.