Government Deployed Facial Recognition Software Called Into Question

Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have deployed facial recognition software amid rising concerns of privacy and wrongful convictions.

Government Deployed Facial Recognition Software Called Into Question

Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have deployed facial recognition software amid rising concerns of privacy and wrongful convictions.

Now a New Jersey man is suing local authorities after having been arrested and detained following a false-match by facial recognition software.

The arrest stemmed from a January 2019 incident where police officers were called to investigate a person who was stealing snacks from a gift shop. At the scene officers discovered the suspect was in possession of a fake driver’s license and also spotted a “big bag of suspected marijuana” in the man’s pocket. When the officers attempted to apprehend the suspect, he evaded their grasp and then escaped in a vehicle.

Later, 33-year-old Nijeer Parks, was arrested based on a match from facial recognition software. He spent more than a week behind bars after receiving charges of shoplifting, assault, and drug possession, according to a complaint filed in New Jersey Superior Court. The charges were eventually dropped and Parks was exonerated.

Mr. Parks is now seeking unspecified damages, according to the complaint, over allegations including false arrest, civil-rights violations and emotional distress.

The use of facial recognition software by law enforcement and government agencies is a controversial subject. Just this year, California passed a law that temporarily bans state police from using facial recognition in body cameras.

Facial recognition software accesses billions of photos from state and government databases along with images scraped from websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Almost half of Americans polled by Pew Research do not believe agencies will use the software responsibly, let alone trust the accuracy of the controversial technology.

To date, there are no federal regulations that govern the use of facial recognition software. The technology is controversial as it may violate citizens’ First Amendment rights which grant freedoms including free speech and the freedom to assemble. It may also violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unlawful searches and seizure.

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