A Michigan couple is considering legal action after their teenage daughter was banned from a local skating rink after being misidentified by facial recognition software.
Juliea and her husband Derrick Robinson are upset and call the incident “basically racial profiling” after the Riverside Arena skating rink in the Detroit suburb of Livonia, Michigan, had their daughter 14-year-old Lamya Robinson banned from the establishment after she was mistaken for another person who took part in a brawl at the place back in March 2020.
However, the Robinsons say their daughter couldn’t have been a part of the brawl because she had never been to the rink until she found out she was barred on July 10 when her mother dropped her off to hang out with some friends.
According to Fox 2, the staff decided to have Lamya, who is Black, removed based on their facial recognition software. “To me, it’s basically racial profiling,” Juliea told the news outlet. “You’re just saying every young Black, brown girl with glasses fits the profile, and that’s not right.” Lamya says she was “confused.”
The family is just grateful that authorities did not have to get involved. However, they still believe Riverside mishandled the situation. “You all put my daughter out of the establishment by herself, not knowing what could have happened,” Lamya’s father explained. “It just happened to be a blessing that she was calling in frustration to talk to her cousin, but at the same time he pretty much said I’m not that far, let me go see what’s wrong with her.”
Outcry over the use of the controversial face-recognition technology has been increasing as many claim the software violates privacy rights and is not always 100 percent accurate. Critics have even said it will be used to harm and target Black and brown communities primarily.
The ACLU reported that research done by Black scholars Joy Buolamwini, Deb Raji, and Timnit Gebru concluded that some facial analysis algorithms misclassified Black women nearly 35 percent of the time, while almost always got it right when it came to their white male counterparts. A CBS report said Rekognition, Amazon’s face-ID system, once identified Oprah Winfrey as male, just as an example. Last summer, the e-commerce company, IBM and Microsoft announced they would pause or end their face recognition technology sales to police in the United States.
The rink released a statement to Fox 2, writing: “One of our managers asked Ms. Robinson (Lamya’s mother) to call back sometime during the week. He explained to her, this our usual process, as sometimes the line is quite long and it’s a hard look into things when the system is running. The software had her daughter at a 97 percent match. This is what we looked at, not the thumbnail photos Ms. Robinson took a picture of, if there was a mistake, we apologize for that.”