Stop the Use of Invasive and Racist Detection Technology

Target: Eric Adams, Mayor of New York City

Goal: Remove the use of invasive, racist facial recognition and weapon detection technologies from the Blueprint to End Gun Violence.

Rising gun violence has taken center stage of the New York City news cycle. Fear is intensifying, aggravated by a laundry list of high-profile shootings, including the murder of two police officers following an altercation in Manhattan last month. New Yorker’s have been calling on Mayor Adams to deliver on one of his main campaign promises and get guns off the streets. However, the mayor’s Blueprint to End Gun Violence was just released and it hints at a concerning plan to integrate invasive, racist facial and weapon recognition technology into the regular fight against crime. 

Referencing the new measures to be taken in the combat against guns, the blueprint states that “the NYPD will explore the responsible use of new technologies and software to identify dangerous individuals and those carrying weapons.” The software and technologies in question are known to lack federal regulation, which has already prompted states like Washington and cities like San Francisco to ban the use of facial recognition tech (FRT) until comprehensive federal law shaping the programs is passed. Additionally, in 2020, Amazon, Microsoft and other companies temporarily stopped the sale of FRTs to law enforcement nationwide, awaiting federal guidance. FRTs also have a proven track record of administering false positives (false IDs), which have been reported to be “highest among women and people with darker complexions, and lowest among white men,” by Asis International. Such inaccuracies have already led to wrongful arrests.

Gun-detection softwares also have their share of concerns. Such software is relatively new and untested. They, too, have a history of inaccuracies and effectiveness. An investigative report conducted by Vice Tech obtained documents revealing that detection technology used by a school in Lockport, New York had recorded instances of mistaking broom handles for guns, and had a disproportionately high inaccuracy rate for Black students in comparison to their white peers. To top it all off, gun-detection software is not completely artificial. To solidify a positive detection the capture must go through a human confirmation, making the technology even more susceptible to racial bias. 

New York city is experiencing a historic spike in crime and homelessness. Actions must be taken that address the root cause of these issues, but we cannot let Mayor Adams’ administration use this moment as an excuse to infringe on our privacy rights. Furthermore, we must refuse the implementation of unregulated, faulty technology that further perpetuates and deepens racism in law enforcement. Demand that Mayor Eric Adams scrap proven faulty facial recognition and gun detection from the Blueprint to End Gun Violence. 

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mayor Adams, 

New Yorkers have called on you to address the fearful conditions that increased gun-violence have fostered in their city. In your plan to combat street crime you included the implementation of federally unregulated, untested, and proven racist gun detection and facial recognition technology. Such software jeopardizes the privacy of our citizens as well as our control over our data. Such invasive technologies also bolster the discriminatory practice of heavily surveilling communities of color and further criminalize Black and brown people with their racial bias. 

We demand that you end the NYPD’s contract with these tech companies and prevent another wave of racist policing and systematic bias from hitting our city. 

Sincerely, 

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jonathan McIntosh


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