A New York Landlord Is Trying To Put Facial Recognition In A Mostly Black Brooklyn Apartment Building. Tenants Are Fighting Back
Photo Credit: Photo: Nelson Management Group

A New York Landlord Is Trying To Put Facial Recognition In A Mostly Black Brooklyn Apartment Building. Tenants Are Fighting Back

Nelson Management Group — the landlord of the 700-unit Atlantic Plaza towers in Brooklyn — is getting backlash from its tenants now that it wants to use facial recognition technology to approve and deny requests for entry, according to News 4 New York.

The group wants to replace tenants’ key fobs with the facial recognition technology, but many tenants feel that it is an invasion of their privacy. A group of 130 tenants are trying to block Nelson from building it, and are now using legal action to do so, according to Patch

“It’s my biometrics, it’s my identity and we don’t want that in anyone’s hands,” Tasliym Francis, a tenant of Atlantic Plaza towers, told News 4.

What’s happening in Atlantic Towers goes way beyond people being mad about the invasive nature of having facial recognition technology where they live. Tenants and lawyers are arguing that putting facial recognition tech in Atlantic Plaza is actually a violation of rent stabilization laws, which prohibit landlords from violating a tenant’s privacy.

Lawyers have also raised concerns about the biases imbedded in AI, which are well documented, and the disproportionate impact it has on Black and brown communities.

Nelson Management says  that all the biometric information collected will be encrypted and will not be shared with third parties.

“The sole goal of implementing this technology is to advance that priority and support the safety and security of residents,” the group said in a statement News 4.

Nelson Management Group’s move to implement facial recognition into its apartment complexes comes during the height of a heated debate on the use of the AI across the country. Microsoft’s president Brad Smith has called for more AI laws to protect people against biases.

According to News 4, the application for the technology was filed last year and has not been approved as of yet. Although facial recognition technology is not banned, the Department of Buildings says there would still have to be a key-based system in place as well.

Tenants are also raising a bigger concern, one that has a lot to do with technology, but also factors into things like who Robert Nelson — owner of Nelson Management Group — wants to live there, and how things like facial recognition system might influence that.

“We don’t believe he’s doing this to beef up security in the building,” tenant Icemae Downes told Patch. “We believe he’s doing this to attract new tenants who don’t look like us.”