Teen barred from Livonia roller rink based on incorrect facial recognition

July 15, 2021, 8:03 AM

Critics of facial recognition software have said for years it is too inaccurate to be trusted, and today a Black teen knows it firsthand.  

Lamya Robinson and her parents, Juliea and Derrick (Photo: Fox 2 video)

Fox 2 Detroit reports:

Lamya Robinson's mom dropped her off at Riverside Arena skating rink last Saturday to hang out with friends, but staffers barred her entry saying she was banned after her face was scanned - saying Lamya was involved in a brawl at the skating rink back in March.

But there was one problem.

"I was so confused because I've never been there," said Lamya.

Managers of the Livonia facility claim Lamya's face bore a 97-percent match to that of a girl it had previously ID'd as a troublemaker, and refused her entrance. 

Facial recognition technology has been criticized, in particular because it has a lower accuracy rate for darker skin tones. A Farmington Hills man testified to a Congressional committee earlier this week after he was arrested and jailed for theft from a Detroit Shinola store, having been ID'd by the technology. The charges were dropped.

Lamya's parents expressed concern that the roller-rink incident left their 14-year-old daughter outside the business, potentially risking her safety. 

A rink statement says the face-matching was part of the admission process, and "sometimes the line is quite long and it's a hard look into things when the system is running. ... If there was a mistake, we apologize for that." 

Read more:  Fox 2

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