Criminals Privacy a Priority in Portland

Criminals Privacy a Priority in Portland

Criminals Privacy a Priority in Portland

Maintaining criminals privacy seems a likely reason the Portland City Council voted to eliminate video surveillance and facial recognition in the midst of chaos. The Council doesn’t seem concerned about the citizens safety or property, at least not enough to use proven technology that keeps them safe.

On Wednesday, the Portland City Council passed an unprecedented and far sweeping ban on facial recognition and surveillance technology. It encompasses both public agencies and private entities, banning them from using the technology in public spaces and in private spaces occupied by the public. The unanimous vote regarding public spaces defined “surveillance technologies” as,

any software, electronic device, system utilizing an electronic device, or similar used, designed, or primarily intended to collect, retain, analyze, process, or share audio, electronic, visual, location, thermal, olfactory, biometric, or similar information specifically associated with, or capable of being associated with, any individual or group.”

A device used primarily to collect, retain, or share audio and visual. So at the most basic it’s a camera, video, or audio recording system. Just like those behind the doors at the public library. In the hallways of public school buildings. Or at City Hall from behind the security desk. Cellphones and personal devices have an exemption from the council overreach.

Portland leadership was unsatisfied with limiting their privacy blanket to public buildings, so they decided that ALL areas accessible to the public would abide by their new mandate. Including private entities. Places like gas stations, bank ATM’s, and even the “public/private” airport are subject to this ban.

The council’s purpose (34.10.010),

-Face Recognition Technologies have been shown to falsely identify women and People of Color on a routine basis.

-Community members have raised concerns on the impacts of Face Recognition Technologies on civil liberties and civil rights.

-the collection, trade, and use of face biometric information may compromise the privacy of individuals even in their private setting.

-Portland’s commitment to equity means that we prioritize the safety and well-being of communities of color and other marginalized and vulnerable community members.

Ironically, the supporting documents are entitled “Digital Justice.”

But justice for whom?

Catch, release, and a 30 year homicide high

Portland has embraced the “catch and release” approach to crime. A misdemeanor charge usually results in about three hours of jail time, before the PPB turns the accused back out on the street. A KPTV Fox-12 investigative report found,

According to records obtained from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, of the 100 most frequent offenders booked into the jail, 17 have been arrested and booked more than 100 times.”

17 people have been arrested more than 100 times. That’s not the totality of their crimes, just the number of times they’ve been caught.

One individual did this,

a man seen on surveillance video punching a woman twice on a downtown Portland street, Daniel Bertrand, was released the same day he was arrested…. He was arrested and booked back into the Multnomah County Jail two weeks later for trespassing, then released again. Court records show Bertrand was arrested for trespassing again five days later and released again.

Surveillance video caught this crime on camera. Then this repeat offender was arrested twice more for trespassing. I’m guessing surveillance video helped again. I don’t think the woman who was punched cares about her image being recorded as much as she cares about catching the person who physically attacked her.

Homicides in Portland are at a 30 year high. July 2020, The Oregonian reports,

Portland police are scrambling to respond to 15 homicides in the city so far in July. That’s the most killings in one month in more than three decades, they said. So far this year, 24 people have died in homicides in Portland.

Homicide is rising, and utilizing proven technology takes a back seat to Portland’s sensibilities on Digital Justice.

Proven technology that has already helped stop crime

Video surveillance is ubiquitous throughout our lives. Intersection cameras monitor traffic conditions, and cash register cameras keep employees safer and honest about the cash drawer. Security Industry Association highlights some of the very real positive outcomes from surveillance video. Noting that,

Many public safety officials feel that this technology is becoming a game-changer for keeping our communities safe, pointing to instances where crimes would have never been solved or prevented without it.

Including this one where a, “29-year-old male charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl; suspect was identified from surveillance video from a 7-Eleven.”

It is entirely possible to co-exist with assistive technology and our Constitutional right to liberty.

Fear of rioters is hurting the city economy

In a city with over 100 nights of protests and rioting, it seems illogical to cease using a proven technology that can help capture and punish those responsible for destruction, and the day to day crime. It makes far more sense to draft legislation ensuring that Constitutional and civil liberties protections are applied to Portland residents.

The Portland City Council is relying on outdated studies that suggest facial recognition is flawed in pairing dark skinned individuals, and women to the correct match. The initial data was based on the small comparative pool of images, and searches would initially result in a mis-match. But, as images in the database have increased, so has the accuracy of matches. The technology only improves as the artificial intelligence algorithms build the data.

Portland should take the opportunity to improve the civil regulations with the technology. Not an outright ban. 

And this brings us back to the mostly peaceful protesting rioters rampaging through the city. The opposition documents (Section VI. Recommendations) presented by the Security Industry Association (SIA) highlight an important aspect about Portland’s predicament. Specifically that they need to weed out the troublemakers hellbent on destroying commerce in the downtown area. They could accomplish this if they followed SIA’s suggestion,

Facial recognition is also critical in real time in cases of mass shootings, bombings, and other disasters. The technology has improved by orders of magnitude and facial recognition now is a crucial element in counterterrorism and law enforcement around the country and the world. Instead of banning or seriously restricting law enforcement and other public-sector uses of facial recognition, legislative efforts should aim to ensure that existing Constitutional and civil liberties protections apply to public-sector uses of facial recognition.”

Commerce is suffering. Tourism is suffering. Ultimately, the residents of Portland are suffering economically and at the hands of criminals. Unfortunately, it seems that their City Council is willing to prolong the suffering to protect the criminals privacy and the council members progressive sensibilities.

 

Featured Image: Flickr/Mike Fleming  License: CC BY-SA 2.0  Image Cropped:400×400

Written by

"CC" to her friends. Recent escapee from Northern VA to the Great State of Texas. I'm a Pro-LIfe, Pro-Gun, Libertarian type... There is very little that fresh lime juice and good tequila can't fix.

7 Comments
  • Scott says:

    Maybe they should just put the text of the ban on a headstone, as this is the death of a civilized Portland (if there still was one). The inmates are now truly running the asylum.

  • GWB says:

    -Community members have raised concerns on the impacts of Face Recognition Technologies on civil liberties and civil rights.
    -the collection, trade, and use of face biometric information may compromise the privacy of individuals even in their private setting.

    I agree wholeheartedly.

    Portland has embraced the “catch and release” approach to crime.
    Which means the facial recognition stuff isn’t going to be used to catch criminals. The only other purpose, really, is to violate your civil rights.

    I don’t think the woman who was punched cares about her image being recorded as much as she cares about catching the person who physically attacked her.
    That sounds like every justification for the Patriot Act.

    It is entirely possible to co-exist with assistive technology and our Constitutional right to liberty.
    Yes. But it requires a tension produced by people zealous for and jealous of their rights, and preventing gov’t abuse of those tools.

    But, as images in the database have increased, so has the accuracy of matches.
    And once we have everyone in the database, the matches will improve even more! Sorry, but that is frightening scifi dystopic two-by-two-hands-of-blue stuff. (On this sort of thing my pessimism has never yet been disappointed.)

    mostly peaceful protesting rioters
    And yet you want these sorts of people to have these tools?

    legislative efforts should aim to ensure that existing Constitutional and civil liberties protections apply
    Our gov’t was formed on the idea that you don’t do anything that relies on the goodness of the people in gov’t to guarantee our liberties. They were right, too.

    I’m going to have to go ACLU on this one out of sheer terror at how easily it could slide right into Chinese-level surveillance. Maybe some good old-fashioned police work and a gov’t that prioritizes American Constitutionalism and law and order could take care of it in a way that doesn’t require such intrusion into privacy. (BTW, those would require a community more oriented on morals and real civil rights than on progressivism and the imagined ‘rights’ of marxists.)

    • GWB says:

      FYI, I was for the Patriot Act in the beginning. I had my reservations, but thought the tension provided by oversight would keep it mostly away from areas of concern.

      I was wrong.

  • American Human says:

    George, perhaps your concerns about a governmental effort to keep tabs on you via video surveillance is warranted however, in a private business, there is no reason the government should be involved in either allowing or prohibiting the installation of cameras. It is known, to those of us who have been involved, that facial recognition is easily wrong better than 60% of the time. The only thing that it can or should do is to bring up an array of photos with a human deciding if the person in the video is one people in the photos provided. A store, any store, should be able to do whatever they can to make sure their place of business is secure or at least protected by allowing the use of cameras. Otherwise identification of a thief is left up to a person’s memory which is notoriously deficient when it comes to eyewitness accounts. Without the ability of cameras to help, insurance costs will increase and the apprehension of suspects will plummet. Just sayin…

    • American Human says:

      sorry, a correction: “…allowing or prohibiting the installation of cameras in a private business.”

    • GWB says:

      I concur to a point. I don’t think the gov’t has much business telling private entities what they can do (within reason). Any issues arise with modern systems that don’t keep the data within the premise owner’s control.

      But, yes, my problem is with the gov’t. Well, that and facial recognition in general. Bad enough Twitter and FarceBook trying to police our society without it.

    • GWB says:

      Oh, and I am not “George”. Wholly different name for the same initials.

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