Black teen barred from skating rink by inaccurate facial recognition

A facial recognition algorithm used by a local roller skating rink in Detroit did not allow teenage Lamya Robinson on the premises, accusing him of having previously had a fight at the facility.

But Robinson has never been to a skating rink.

She told Fox 2 Detroit that the facial recognition system mismatched her with another customer. The skating rink kicked her out of the building and left her alone outside, her family says.

Her mother, Juliea Robinson, told the TV station: “You say every young black, brown girl with glasses is suitable for your profile, and that’s not right.”

The harm of facial recognition systems deployed in businesses and police is slowly being revealed as the technology becomes more widely used. Studies of these algorithms have shown that they are much less accurate at distinguishing faces from blacks, women, and children, which may help explain the error Lamya Robinson faced.

The most meticulous example of facial recognition leading to unwarranted arrests also occurred in Detroit, in the case of Robert Williams. Williams was arrested in January 2020 for stealing items from the Shinola watch store and held for 30 hours. He testified before the House Judiciary Committee, urging legislators to adopt a moratorium on technologies introduced into legislation in June 2020.

As Williams said in his testimony, “I don’t want anyone out of my testimony who thinks that the more accurate the technology, the better the problem will be.” “Even if this technology becomes accurate at the expense of people like me, I don’t want my daughters’ faces to be part of a government database.”

Due to the racial and gender accuracy gaps and the intrusive nature of technology, civil rights groups and politicians have called for a ban. The American Civil Liberties Union called for a nationwide ban and sued the Detroit Police Department on behalf of Williams for misuse of the technology. Some states, such as Maine, have already begun restricting police use of the technology. However, only Portland, Oregon currently has laws restricting how private businesses can use facial recognition.

Fight for the Future, a human rights nonprofit, announced that more than 35 other organizations have joined forces to demand that retailers stop using facial recognition in their stores. The group reiterated today after reports of Lamya Robinson being kicked off the rink.

“This is why I think we should ban facial recognition in public. “It’s not hard to imagine what would have happened if the police were to the scene and how they would have behaved in response to this misinformation.”


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