Seattle’s King County Facial Recognition Ban Is Misguided, Says ITIF

June 2, 2021

WASHINGTON—In response to King County Council in Washington State passing an ordinance prohibiting the acquisition and use of facial recognition technology by the local government, ITIF vice president Daniel Castro issued the following statement:

Banning a technology that the county is not even using achieves nothing good. It does not reduce government surveillance, diminish policing of political activists, or lessen racial injustice. However, the ban will make it harder for local government to use everyday technology to keep its citizens and workers safe. 

For example, the ban means that city buildings cannot use facial recognition to limit access to restricted areas to authorized personnel only, and law enforcement cannot use facial recognition to help identify victims or witnesses. While it is good that the county decided not to ban the use of facial recognition to find missing children, if it is safe for children, why should it also not be used to find missing adults? 

Unfortunately, it appears that facts and evidence did not drive this decision, as the most recent evidence shows that the best facial recognition systems are highly accurate with little to no bias.

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Seattle’s King County Facial Recognition Ban Is Misguided, Says ITIF