Taser maker says it won’t use facial recognition in bodycams


Enlarge / A body camera from Taser is seen during a press conference at City Hall September 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Getty Images News)

Axon, creator of the Taser, did something unusual for a technology company last year. The Arizona corporation convened an ethics board of external experts to offer guidance on potential downsides of its technology.

Thursday, that group published a report recommending that the company not deploy facial recognition technology on its body cameras, widely used by US police departments. The report said the technology was too unreliable and could exacerbate existing inequities in policing, for example by penalizing black or LBGTQ communities.

Axon’s CEO and founder Rick Smith agrees. “This recommendation is quite reasonable,” he says in an interview. “Without this ethics board we may have moved forward before we really understood what could go wrong with this technology.”

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