According to facial recognition startup Clearview AI, nearly a million searches for US police have been conducted.
There’s solid cause for the controversy around facial recognition technology. Law enforcement can use the technology of Clearview AI to upload a picture of a suspect’s face and search through a database of billions of photos to identify matches.
CEO of Clearview AI, Hoan Tonthat said in a BBC interview that the company has stolen 30 billion photos from websites like Facebook. Without the users’ consent, the pictures were taken.
Despite multiple million-dollar fines from Europe and Australia for privacy violations, the company’s potent software is still being used by US authorities.
According to Electronic Frontier Foundation spokesperson Matthew Guaragilia, using Clearview by the police forces everyone into a “perpetual police line-up.”
Miami Police told the BBC that it employs Clearview AI’s software for all types of crimes, despite the popular perception that facial recognition technology is exclusively employed for violent or major crimes.
Assistant Chief of Police for Miami Armando Aguilar stated that his squad utilized the Clearview AI system roughly 450 times annually and that it has been instrumental in solving multiple homicides.
Nonetheless, the police have documented multiple instances of misidentification using facial recognition technology. For instance, Robert Williams was unfairly detained overnight in a “crowded and filthy” cell after being wrongfully apprehended on his lawn in front of his family.
Following the reintroduction of the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, Kate Ruane, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU, stated, “The perils of face recognition technology are not hypothetical—study after study and real-life have already shown us its dangers.”
“Several black men, including ACLU client Robert Williams, have been wrongfully arrested as a result of the technology’s startlingly high rate of inaccuracy when applied to people of color.”
The actual number of false arrests caused by police use of facial recognition technology is probably far greater due to the lack of openness surrounding this practice.
Civil rights activists want police departments who utilize Clearview AI to publicly disclose when they use it and to publicly testify on the accuracy of the system in court. They demand that impartial specialists examine the systems.
It’s controversial when it comes to police usage of facial recognition technology. It could be useful in solving crimes, but it also threatens privacy and civil liberties.
Ultimately, we must be cautious to make sure we don’t cross the thin line that separates employing technology to combat crime from violating individual rights.