Denver residents won’t get to vote on whether to ban facial-recognition technology

No signatures were submitted for the initiative.

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

Denver’s November ballot won’t include a question on whether to ban the use of facial-recognition technology by city agencies.

Denver Elections confirmed on Monday that organizers behind the 5280 Not 1984 measure didn’t submit any signatures by the circulation deadline on May 4. At least 8,265 valid signatures from Denver voters are required for a question to make a ballot.

Petition organizer Connor Swatling did not immediately return our request for comment. His website showed the group suspended its campaign after collecting just 4,875 signatures after it was approved to begin collecting signatures last year.

The measure sought to ban city agencies, including Denver police, from using facial recognition technology and data acquired from it. Last year, DPD said it doesn’t currently use this kind of technology.

Supporters of the ban argued such technology is biased and infringes on civil liberties. To prove their point, they ran a test earlier this year using Amazon’s facial recognition program, called Rekognition, using City Council members’ portraits. The program incorrectly matched several council members with photos from the state’s sex offender registry.

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