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2 Computer Science Majors Have Raised $3M For Their AI Platform, JusticeText, To Build Police Accountability

Two computer science majors from the University of Chicago (UChicago) are making significant strides in advancing improvements in the criminal justice system. Death Of Laquan McDonald Inspired The Need For Change Co-founders Leslie Jones-Dove and Devshi Mehrotra refused to look the other way following two tragedies at the hands of police. In 2015, while attending the University of Chicago in Illinois as freshmen, Jones-Dove and Mehrotra learned of dash cam footage that was released showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being fatally shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014, ABC-7 Chicago reports. The incident sparked protests across the city and demonstrations on the University of Chicago campus. For the duo, it served as a launch pad for their interest in the intersection of technology and criminal justice. According to The Guardian, a police union official said McDonald had “lunged at police” before the officer fired shots. However, the video footage told a different...

Feb 5, 2024

Amazon’s Ring Changes Its Rules, Limiting Police Access To Private User Footage

Ring, the home security company acquired by Amazon in 2018, will no longer allow police departments to request private user footage through its Neighbors app.

Feb 1, 2024

Restaurant Owner Claims The City Of Chicago Shut Him Down Because He's A Black Man

When Rashad Bailey started his Dinner and A Movie restaurant, he had high hopes for bringing good food and entertainment to the citizens of Chicago, IL. But soon after his business opened, the trouble started. This trouble ultimately led to the City of Chicago shutting down the restaurant, which Bailey believes is solely based on race.

Aug 2, 2022

Minneapolis PD Banned From Using Facial Recognition Software

On Feb. 12, 2021, the Minneapolis Police Department announced that its officers are banned from using facial recognition software when they’re in the process of apprehending suspects. According to TechCrunch, the problematic police department — best known for being the home of the officers who killed George Floyd last summer — is known for having a “relationship” with Clearview AI, a firm with a record of “scraping” images from social media networks and selling them, wholesale, to police departments and federal law enforcement agencies. 13 members of the city council — with no opposition — voted in favor of banning facial recognition software usage. And Minneapolis is just the latest city to join in the usage ban, joining Boston and San Francisco in this landmark move. However, the bans haven’t included selling the images to private companies — which many privacy experts cite as a growing concern. But there’s another, more salient reason why facial recognition software is facing...

Ford Employees Call For Automaker to Stop Making Police Cars

As efforts to stop police brutality and defund the police continue, Ford Motor Company employees are taking direct action. According to The Verge , a group of Ford employees has asked the automaker to stop making the Ford Police Interceptor and other pursuit-rated utility vehicles , which are built specifically for law enforcement. Also, new technologies are tested in Ford’s cop cars that benefit their overall lineup. “We cannot claim to support the fight against systemic racism while supplying and supporting the very systems that perpetrate violence against Black Americans,” the group wrote, according to Jalopnik. “Throughout our history, the vehicles that Ford employees design and build have been used as accessories to police brutality and oppression.” In response to the employee’s concerns, Ford CEO Jim Hackett has told employees that they will continue their commitment to law enforcement as he doesn’t think it’s “controversial that the Ford Police Interceptor helps officers do...

Jul 10, 2020

Amazon Bans Police Use of Facial Recognition Tech for a Year, But It's Not Enough

This past Wednesday, Amazon announced in a blog post that they’re placing a one-year ban on police’s use of facial recognition technology. Part of their statement goes as follows: “We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge. We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.” This announcement could be in response to the protests and uprisings that have occurred as a result of all the recent police killings and brutality. Although their statement postpones their involvement in endorsing this technology for law enforcement for a year, it doesn’t address what will happen once the ban expires. On the heels of this announcement, many were outraged at the time limit placed on the ban, expressing that it’s not enough to simply forbid the sale of...

Jun 12, 2020

One Of The Country's Major Suppliers Of Police Body Cameras Has Banned Facial Recognition. But That Isn't Enough

As awareness around facial recognition continues to grow, a primary concern has been its potential to open up new frameworks for mass surveillance. That concern grew even more pressing as people realized that facial recognition could potentially be used in body cameras, essentially creating roving, real-time surveillance systems on the chests of police. On Thursday, Axon — the company that created the Taser and supplies 47 out of the 69 largest police agencies in the United States with body cameras and software — announced a ban on the use of facial recognition on its devices . Although this can certainly be considered a temporary victory, Axon’s announcement must be carefully analyzed — both within social contexts, the words that the company used, and its own history. Axon’s decision comes from the first report of an AI and Policing Technology Ethics Board that the company originally formed in April of 2018. The board was developed to lead Axon in ethically developing products and...

Jun 28, 2019

San Francisco Plans To Use AI To Avoid Racial Bias When Deciding Criminal Charges

On Wednesday, San Francisco announced District Attorney George Gascón’s plans to implement a new artificial intelligence tool to stop bias when charging people with crimes. According to the San Francisco Examiner, the tool will be implemented on July 1. The bias mitigation tool works by removing identifying information from police reports. Anything that could hint at a person’s race will be taken out, including descriptions of eye and hair color. However, it’s not just physical descriptors that could imply somebody’s race. The program will remove peoples’ names, locations, and neighborhoods from reports too.  A spokesperson for the DA also told the Verge that details about police officers will be taken out. The bias mitigation tool was developed by Alex Chohlas-Wood and a team at the Stanford Computational Policy Lab. The Verge noted that the same developer also came up with the New York Police Department’s Patternizr System. AI is generally known for introducing or reinforcing...

Jun 14, 2019

San Francisco Police Are Trying To Stop A Facial Recognition Surveillance Ban

The use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement continues to be a concern for civil rights and privacy advocates. Many point out its potential to worsen pre-existing surveillance of marginalized communities. With that in mind, San Francisco is quickly on its way to becoming the first city to ban facial recognition surveillance. Back in February , San Francisco’s lawmakers proposed the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance that would restrict all city departments from using facial recognition tech. In addition, they’d need board approval to purchase any new surveillance devices. Although the proposal has the support of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one group is notably pushing back: police. The San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA) has not only opposed the bill but Supervisor Aaron Peskin — who introduced the legislation — said his office has been bombarded with identical emails originating from the Police...

Apr 16, 2019

The NYPD Is Using Pattern Recognition Software To Solve Crimes

The New York City Police Department has revealed its use of Patternizr, a new tool that lets officers quickly sort through case files, as reported by The Washington Post . The software works by using automated pattern-recognition algorithms, allowing it to sort through “hundreds of thousands” of NYPD records. It specifically looks for similarities, or patterns, between cases. Right now, the software pretty much focuses on theft and larceny. Looking through records to link certain crimes to each other is something that would typically require countless manual hours. Patternizr cuts down on time, which could ultimately save the department money in the long run. In addition, The Washington Post reported that it’s a comprehensive system, looking into all of New York’s 77 precincts. That allows analysts to see what’s going on across the entire city with ease. Patternizr has been in use since 2016, but the NYPD only publicly shared it in an issue of INFORMS Journal on Applied Analytics...

Mar 11, 2019

Siri Will Have Your Back If You Get Pulled Over By Police

Many folks in the black community have to resort to making sure they have their receipts when it comes to interactions with police officers. There’s a reason why we even know the names Michael Brown or Philando Castile: recording devices. You can tell Siri to remind you of an event or even when you want to be awakened. Imagine being able to tell it to record your interaction with law enforcement. Thanks to a modification to the app Shortcuts, iPhone users can now do just that. The app allows one’s smartphone to perform an array of tasks through voice command. Robert Petersen invented a Shortcuts add-on called Police , which triggers recording for police encounters, WTVR reports. Siri can now record police interactions when you get pulled over — NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 6, 2018   As soon as you’re pulled over, you can say, “Siri, I’m getting pulled over,” which will activate the app. It will discreetly send your location to a designated contact,...

Oct 10, 2018