New York City says it will reassess police use of facial recognition

The pledge comes after the NYPD used the technology to investigate a BLM activist.

Tim Drivas Photography via Getty Images

According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City will place additional restrictions on police use of facial recognition. The pledge comes after the NYPD employed the technology to identify a prominent Black Lives Matter activist.

"We need to be very sparing in our use of facial recognition technology," said Mayor de Blasio in response to a question from a Gothamist reporter during his August 17th media availability (skip to 38:35 mark to hear the relevant comments). "... in a world where we've unfortunately dealt with violent acts of terror here in New York City, there is a place for facial recognition but with really clear checks and balances."

"Those standards need to be reassessed," the mayor went on to say. "That's something I will do with my team and the NYPD."

The question came after NYPD admitted it had used facial recognition to investigate activist Derrick Ingram. Ingram had allegedly used a bullhorn during a June protest to shout into an officer's ear. Police attempted to arrest Ingram during a failed raid. An image from the incident shows an officer holding a report from the NYPD's Facial Identification Section, with an Instagram photo of Ingram attached.

New York's decision to reevaluate its use of facial recognition comes as cities across the US grapple with whether to limit the controversial technology. In June, Boston became the second city in the US to ban its local police force from using the tool. The decision came at around the same time that police wrongfully arrested a Black man in Detroit after using facial recognition software to carry out an identification. According to the ACLU, the incident was the first known wrongful arrest in the US due to misuse of the technology.