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Police Looking to Add Their Own Facial Recognition to Smarthome Doorbells

Police in Arizona are contemplating a future in which your neighborhood’s front doors provide a network with which to surveil the public.

In this new digital age that we have found ourselves in, it is becoming ever more important for Americas to assert their right to privacy.

This isn’t some government-granted privilege either.  Americans are guaranteed privacy in the Constitution, whose words overrule those of even the highest levels of the federal system.  We are to be free from unwarranted surveillance, identification, or persecution, and we shan’t have our likenesses used or abused by anyone, let alone the police.

Unfortunately, in the pursuit of convenience, it appears as though we have let some of this protective demeanor slip away, and local authorities around the nation are taking advantage of this.

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Amazon does not offer the ability to recognize faces in footage on its Ring doorbell cameras. But just one month after police in Chandler, Arizona, received 25 surveillance cameras for free from the company, the department’s then–assistant chief discussed using its own facial recognition technology on Ring footage at a meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, according to his slideshow obtained in a public records request.

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In an April presentation titled “Leveraging Consumer Surveillance Systems,” Jason Zdilla discussed various consumer surveillance devices and platforms. Examples cited in the presentation included Ring cameras and the Neighbors app.

The police department wanted to downplay the display.

A department representative said that the slide about facial recognition focused on when it is legal or socially acceptable to use facial recognition for analyzing consumer surveillance footage.

“This was a thought-provoking slide for each agency in attendance to consider … what are the laws, perception and community expectations for using technology,” the representative said.

The potential for abusing facial recognition technology, particularly by police departments, is astounding.  If we are to maintain our Fourth Amendment rights against improper search and seizure, we must denounce precisely these sorts of advancements.

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