A New York City trial to determine whether facial recognition tech could identify drivers as they entered or exited the city via the Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Bridge appears to be a complete failure that successfully identified zero percent of travelers — but that isn’t stopping the city from moving forward with the program.
In a story published Monday, The Wall Street Journal says it reviewed an email sent by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) official to a senior official in NY governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration on Nov. 29.
According to the WSJ, the MTA official wrote that the “initial period for the proof of concept testing at the RFK for facial recognition has been completed and failed with no faces (0%) being detected within acceptable parameters.”
The official also wrote, puzzlingly, that the MTA was procuring additional cameras to expand the project to other locations.
Safety Vs. Privacy
When questioned about the WSJ’s story, a Cuomo administration official told Gizmodo that “the governor’s number one priority is the safety and security of New Yorkers.”
Daniel Schwarz, privacy and technology strategist at the New York Civil Liberties Union, disagrees.
“This latest news validates our concerns that this technology is invasive and inaccurate—and the government has no justification for using it to undermine the privacy of our daily commutes,” he told Gizmodo. “Facial recognition technology vastly expands the government’s capacity for intrusive, real-time surveillance.”
READ MORE: MTA’s Initial Foray Into Facial Recognition at High Speed Is a Bust [The Wall Street Journal]
More on facial recognition: Amazon’s Facial Recognition Struggles With Darker Skin