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Group Trying To Stop Facial Recognition From Coming To Denver

DENVER (CBS4) - If one group has their way, the City of Denver won't be able to use facial recognition technology now, or ever. The group is called "5280 Not 1984," a play on George Orwell's fictional novel "1984" in which civilians are constantly monitored.

Group aims to collect enough signatures to ensure facial recognition will not come to Denver. (credit: CBS)

"I think fundamentally there is an American sense of distrust in a broader surveillance state. But more than that, this technology isn't effective at its stated purpose," said group member Connor Swatling.

The group is currently gathering signatures to get their initiative on the November 2020 ballot. It would prohibit the city of Denver and all of its entities, like police, from using facial recognition technology for any purpose.

(credit: CBS)

The proposal would not affect halo cameras and photo radar since those don't use facial recognition technology. Swatling says his biggest concern is the technology has a racial and gender bias. He cites a study done by Stanford and MIT.

"Someone who might be a black woman, according to this study, is 34% more likely than me to be misidentified as someone else," he told CBS4's Dominic Garcia.

A Denver spokesperson says none of their safety agencies use facial recognition. Swatling adds the ban would not apply to private businesses or homes.

(credit: CBS)

"So if people have a Ring or a Nest doorbell, or some mundane security system on their property… that's kosher, that's copasetic as far as we're concerned. We're not trying to unduly interfere with the private operation of people's lives," he told CBS4.

The group has until May 2020 to get 8,265 signatures.

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