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Minneapolis City Council Approves Ordinance Banning Purchase of Facial Recognition Technology

What to know about the Minneapolis City Council’s decision to prohibit facial recognition technology:

  • The Minneapolis City Council has approved an ordinance prohibiting the city from buying facial recognition technology or using data sourced from it with, “very narrow exceptions”
  • According to a release from the Minneapolis City Council, facial recognition technology is, “significantly less accurate in identifying people of color, women, and other groups”
    • These concerns seem to be the driving force behind the decision to prohibit the use of the technology
  • The purchase ban also creates a transparent process for departments to follow when requesting the use of facial recognition technology
  • The ordinance expands on the City’s data privacy principles
  • Several other cities in the United States have similar bans in place including Boston and San Francisco

The Quote: Steve Fletcher, Minneapolis City Council Member

“Facial recognition technology works pretty well if you look like me – a middle-aged white man – but for everyone else, it can fail at rates that we would not accept anywhere else. It is unacceptable for us to subject people in our city – particularly women of color – to such a high level of risk.”

Alex Skjong
Alex oversees the content produced for BETA, Twin Cities Startup Week, and When he’s not writing or editing, there’s a good chance he’s enjoying a refreshing brew and explaining the merits of heavy metal (of which there are many).