Denver could vote on a facial recognition tech ban in the 2020 election

It’s not currently in use by any Denver agencies, including police.

HALO cameras over Colfax Avenue in Capitol Hill, Dec. 21, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

HALO cameras over Colfax Avenue in Capitol Hill, Dec. 21, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Supporters calling for a ban on facial recognition technology in Denver will start collecting signatures to get the measure before voters next year.

The initiative called “5280 not 1984” had its sample petitions approved by Denver Elections last week.

The measure would ban city agencies including Denver police from using facial recognition technology and data acquired from it. DPD doesn’t currently use this kind of technology or use local or national databases using this technology.

Supporters of the ban think the technology is biased and infringes on civil liberties.

“Facial recognition software allows for the invasion of every citizen’s privacy,” initiative committee member Scott Kilgore said in a statement. “The technology could allow individuals to be tracked at any time for any reason without a warrant. There are also grave equity concerns about the accuracy of facial recognition, as the technology has been shown repeatedly to be less accurate at identifying people of color.”

Supporters have until May 4 to collect 8,265 valid signatures from Denver voters for a spot in the November ballot. If successful, the initiative would join Resilient Denver’s carbon tax measure, which cured enough signatures for a spot on the ballot.

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