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Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants to put an end to police use of facial recognition software. Sanders called for the ban as part of a criminal justice reform plan introduced today ahead of a two-day tour of South Carolina.

The plan also calls for the ban of for-profit prisons and would revoke the practice of law enforcement agencies benefiting from civil asset forfeitures.

In recent months, cities like San Francisco and Somerville, Massachusetts have passed laws banning police and city department use of facial recognition software on the grounds of racial justice, privacy, and fears of misuse.

Lawmakers in states like Michigan and New Jersey are considering similar bans, and California lawmakers are considering a ban on use of facial recognition software in police body cameras.


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At the same time, police departments in places like Chicago and Detroit are exploring the use of real-time facial recognition with a web of cameras across the city.

A range of policy experts and researchers have urged Congress to take action regulating law enforcement use of facial recognition software. Recommendations of a ban or moratorium on such use received bipartisan support in a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in May.

Committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) are reportedly crafting legislation that may curb use of facial recognition software.

Speaking on such issues as the future of work and China, Democratic presidential candidates from Andrew Yang to Pete Buttigieg have also made artificial intelligence part of their platform.

Sanders kicked off his campaign by saying “I’m running for president because we need to understand that artificial intelligence and robotics must benefit the needs of workers, not just corporate America and those who own that technology.”

Outside the United States, University of Essex researchers in July released analysis showing that facial recognition software use by London police is inaccurate in 80% of cases, which has also prompted calls for a ban or moratorium on law enforcement use of the technology.

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