Surveillance STILL Ain't Safety

New Orleans City Council recently lifted its ban on racially biased facial recognition technology, with almost no safeguards on its use. The only protection currently in place is a promise by NOPD that they will follow their own rules. There are no checks and balances, and there is not even a requirement to collect and report data on NOPD’s use of the technology.

We as a city – among others across the U.S. - have seen historically how unchecked police power leads to further detainment, arrests and incarceration – and even murder – of marginalized and vulnerable communities of color. To be clear, we remain opposed to the use of surveillance technologies to increase the public safety of New Orleanians; they don't and won't do that.

Ordinance 33,809 would do three main things:

  1. Explicitly forbid the use of facial recognition systems in the investigation of abortion-related offenses or offenses involving consensual same-sex sexual conduct.
  2. Require police to submit a sworn affidavit to a court certifying which specific crime they want to use facial recognition for, and that they have exhausted alternative investigatory options
  3. Require basic data collection on the use of facial recognition, with quarterly public reports to City Council

We remain dedicated to halting the expansion of New Orleans' surveillance apparatus. At this time, that includes implementing some form of protection for our LBTQIA2S+ community members to love freely and without fear of persecution by law enforcement and decriminalizes the autonomous decision-making of pregnant people and their healthcare providers.

NOPD is opposing even minimal checks and balances on their use of this technology, which has demonstrated racial and gender bias, and subjects women of color to the highest risk of misidentification and wrongful arrest. It is incredibly troubling for anyone to oppose even these minimal safeguards.