In recent weeks, our founder Barry Friedman penned an op-ed for The New York Times following the Carpenter vs. United States decision and spoke with reporters on policing technologies including drones, license plate readers and facial recognition software.
Read on for more on our ongoing conversations on strengthening policing through democratic governance.
On regulation for facial recognition technology
In a blog post written by Microsoft President Brad Smith, the company made a call for government regulation of facial recognition technology while also vowing to develop transparent principles to govern their own facial recognition work.
The Policing Project applauds Smith and Microsoft and agrees front-end accountability is crucial for controversial and complicated policing technology.
Speaking with The Seattle Times, Friedman noted, “This is one of those situations where if we don’t get a handle on it, it’s going to be hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube." ["Microsoft calls on Congress to regulate controversial facial recognition technology" - The Seattle Times - July 13]
Friedman further discussed Microsoft's announcement with Bloomberg, noting that without rules in place, the technology's use by law enforcement raises concerns about racial disparity and privacy. ["Microsoft Calls for AI Face Recognition Software Regulation" - Bloomberg - July 13]
On drones, policing tech and models for regulation
Given the extraordinary capabilities of new policing technologies like drones, the need for guidance and oversight seems clear. What’s less clear is who will set the policies to limit or monitor the use of these devices — if it’s set at all.
Friedman talked with Gizmodo about the need for front-end accountability in policing tech, the possibility for self-regulation and how it could all work. [“Who Will Police Police Drones” - Gizmodo - July 12]
On US v. Carpenter and surveillance tech
The Supreme Court’s decision in Carpenter late last month put limits on law enforcement’s access to cell phone location data, ruling police need a warrant to access a person’s cell phone location history. But in an op-ed for The New York Times, Friedman cautions the narrow ruling should give you little comfort.
Friedman noted the decision does little to protect you from government access to your data through third party sources, such as cellphone companies, social media platforms or internet service providers. With the ever increasing use of technology by law enforcement, Friedman argued what is needed instead of court decisions is clear regulation on the local, state and federal level influenced by informed public debate. [“The Worrisome Future of Policing Technology” - New York Times - June 22]
Friedman also spoke about Carpenter with The Takeaway from WNYC, discussing the technologies commonly used by law enforcement including license plate readers, what these technologies can mean for privacy, and the need for cost-benefit analysis, transparency and democratic approval. [“Secret Policing: How Local Authorities Surveil Americans” - The Takeaway - June 25]
Friedman joins advisory board on AI
Manufacturer Axon (formerly TASER International) announced its plans to form an advisory board to guide its use of artificial intelligence, including facial recognition software, in its products for law enforcement. Friedman discussed the board’s goals and concerns with PC Mag, noting the need for a conversation around the technology. [“Should Police Body Cameras Get Facial Recognition Tech?” - PC Mag - April 26]
Our staff regularly engage with the press in public discussion of topics such as policing accountability, new technologies, cost-benefit analysis and more. Please send media inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org