The rising trend of using facial recognition software for law enforcement in New York is controversial. While law enforcement advocates view it as a new type of surveillance tool that can expedite arrests and convictions, some recent incidents show that it is also prone to misuse.
Facial Recognition Problems
Facial recognition software uses artificial intelligence to identify the subject of photos or video content. However, the tech is far from perfect. The primary vendor of this technology is Clearview AI, whose app is used in many police departments and prosecutors’ offices. However, cases of mistaken identity are increasingly common. In a recent NJ case, a man was held in prison for ten days despite an alibi and having DNA and fingerprints that did not match evidence at the scene, simply because a Clearview scan mistakenly identified him on video. The AI products are more likely to misidentify black men than white men, making existing racial injustice in the law enforcement system even worse.
Some states have gone as far as to ban Clearview or recommend that their officers and lawyers do not use the app, but sometimes police departments continue to use the apps anyway. The use of the app can result in misidentification, and this can lead to false imprisonment cases. As more police departments experiment with facial recognition software, the problem is likely to become more prominent in the public eye.
Facial recognition software promises to make the correct identification of suspects fast and easy, but it is subject to serious flaws that have led to civil lawsuits against government agencies who use the software.