NHMC Joins Civil Rights Advocates Urging Strong Ethical Review of Axon’s Surveillance Technologies Developed for Law Enforcement

As communities across the country continue to grapple with police violence and racial discrimination and profiling, Axon, a major U.S. police technology vendor is equipping police departments with new tools that could make these problems worse. Axon makes body-worn cameras and TASERs and plans to develop more products powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

For example, body-worn camera systems, which should serve as tools to monitor police behavior, are now being used to increase surveillance of residents in already heavily policed communities. Axon is considering integrating real-time face recognition and object recognition into their body-worn camera systems. These AI technologies provide a flawed sense of reliability and may lead to civil rights violations. That is why civil rights advocates have noted that such integration of AI into policing and surveillance tools “categorically unethical to deploy.”

On April 24, 2018, Axon announced an “artificial intelligence (AI) ethics board.” In response, the National Hispanic Media Coalition joined a coalition of 42 civil rights, racial justice and community organizations in urging the board to hold the company to its ethical responsibilities. The groups are also calling on the ethics board to center the voices and perspectives of those most impacted by Axon’s technologies in its review process. “[A]n ethics process that does not center the voices of those who live in the most heavily policed communities will have no legitimacy.”

The letter asks Axon’s Ethics Board to consider that:

  1. Certain products are categorically unethical to deploy;
  2. Robust ethical review requires centering the voices and perspectives of those most impacted by Axon’s technologies;
  3. Axon must pursue all possible avenues to limit unethical downstream uses of its technologies; and
  4. All of Axon’s digital technologies require ethical review.

The groups explained why Axon “has the responsibility to ensure that its present and future products, including AI-based products, don’t drive unfair or unethical outcomes or amplify racial inequities in policing.” To read the full letter, click here.

National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a woman-led 501(c)(3) non-profit civil and human rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism toward the Latino communities.
© 2024 National Hispanic Media Coalition // communications@nhmc.org // o. (626) 792-6462
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