Shankar Narayan on Facial Misrecognition, Braxton Brewington on Student Debt Abolition

This week on CounterSpin: Why was Detroit mother Porcha Woodruff, eight months pregnant, arrested and held 11 hours by police accusing her of robbery and carjacking? Because Woodruff was identified as a suspect based on facial recognition technology. The Wayne County prosecutor still contends that Woodruff’s charges—dismissed a month later—were “appropriate based upon the facts.” Those “facts” increasingly involve the use of technology that has been proven wrong; the New York Times report on Woodruff helpfully links to articles like “Another Arrest and Jail Time, Due to a Bad Facial Recognition Match,” and “Wrongfully Accused by an Algorithm.” And it’s especially wrong when it comes to—get ready to be surprised—Black people.

Facial recognition has been deemed harmful, in principle and in practice, for years now. We talked in February 2019 with Shankar Narayan, director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the ACLU of Washington state.  We hear that conversation this week.

Also on the show: Listeners may know a federal court has at least for now blocked Biden administration efforts to forgive the debt of student borrowers whose colleges lied to them or suddenly disappeared. The White House seems to be looking for ways to ease student loan debt more broadly, but not really presenting an unapologetic, coherent picture of why, and what the impacts would be. We talked about that with Braxton Brewington of the Debt Collective in March 2022. We’ll revisit that conversation today as well

Plus Janine Jackson takes a quick look at recent press coverage of Trumpism.

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