California Sunday Magazine: The long history of — and recent backlash to — facial recognition

Washington, January 22, 2020

Representative Jimmy Gomez of California’s 34th Congressional District

I was one of the 28 congressmen who was misidentified by the Amazon Rekognition software. I wasn’t surprised. I know for a fact that I have to be more careful when I get pulled over by a police officer. But it concerns me more for people who are working two or three jobs, driving down the street when they get pulled over because they matched some mug shot. They miss their job, their car gets towed, they don’t have money to pay the impound fee.

Part of the reason the government hasn’t implemented policies and legislation is the technology has been advancing so quickly. Republicans and Democrats, we oftentimes disagree where we want government involved in people’s lives. Republicans are concerned about how this technology is being used against conservative demonstrators or the mass surveillance of American citizens. Democrats are concerned about that, too, but more about the fact that it’s being disproportionately used against people of color.

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