Detroit city council approves ordinance to make surveillance measures more transparent

May 25, 2021, 10:17 PM

Detroit City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance to allow for additional public engagement when the city reviews video surveillance contracts.

The ordinance, introduced by Councilmember Mary Sheffield with support from the American Civil Liberties Union, follows the Detroit Police Department's adoption of facial recognition techonology via a low-profile council vote in 2017. The lack of awareness surrounding the technology allowed police to use it under self-imposed rules laxer than those eventually implemented in response to public pressure two years later.

During that time, two Black men were wrongly arrested for thefts in the city.

The ordinance does not end facial recognition — that contract was re-upped in a split council vote last year — but rather creates a more "transparent process to educate the community and allow for public input before new technology is acquired or used," The Detroit News reports.

It applies to surveillance video used for illegal dumping, traffic cameras, and police initiatives.

Read more:  The Detroit News

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