After much backlash due to Rep. Rashida Tlaib previously saying only black people should be hired as facial recognition analysts in Detroit, Tlaib moved to a bigger extreme, pushing for a total ban of the technology.
“I’m going to call out every injustice I see, it’s probably what makes most people uncomfortable when I speak the truth. My comments weren’t racist, out of order, or ‘inappropriate’. It is inappropriate to implement a broken, flawed and racist technology that doesn’t recognize black and brown faces in a city that is over 80% black,” Tlaib said about why she decided to make the push for a ban on the software.
“Facial recognition technology will have racist results and relying on human analysts for intervention is inadequate. We need to ban facial recognition,” she added.
Many are shocked by Tlaib’s words last week and her words now, including Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who gave a tour to Tlaib, showing the software and how it works.
“Racism can rise from a lot of places, including from those who build their careers railing against it. Tlaib, who considers herself among Congress’ most woke members, should wake up to that reality,” The Detroit News wrote in an editorial.
Tlaib’s response was quick and she criticized the newspaper and the facial recognition tech yet again: “Craig’s department spent millions of dollars on a system that is flawed and jeopardizes our civil liberties, and it was implemented with no public input. Calling out racism isn’t racist – but this technology is. I hope instead of attacking me in the media he will read the studies I have provided to his department,” Tlaib said.
The Detroit Police Chief was appalled by Tlaib’s initial suggestion and then further push for banning the software and his response was yet again clarifying how the software operates:
“It’s a software, it’s biometrics. And, to put race in it … we’re talking about trained professionals. My staff goes through intense training with the FBI, and so they’re not looking at race but it’s measurements. We were appalled when she made this statement. We know [there are] flaws in the technology. We’ve addressed that through the rigorous system that we have in place. So, we have a modeled approach on how we use this technology very effectively.”
Craig also took a shot at a “double standard” - “If I had made the exact same comment, they would’ve been calling for my resignation and she would have been leading that charge. That’s a fact,” the Police Chief said.