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An imperative for this police tool: improved accuracy

| May 3, 2021 | Criminal Defense

It’s “a multi-billion dollar industry with a lack of federal regulation.”

Does that up the odds for problems down the road?

Unquestionably, it does, states one professor and criminologist offering comments on a police tool that is recently garnering a fair bit of negative coverage.

We introduce in today’s blog post facial recognition software, an enforcement tool that is presently on the radar of city officials across the country, including in Colorado. Many urban regulators, lawmakers and high-ranking police principals avidly endorse the technology, praising its ability to identify criminals who might otherwise evade detection and commit multiple acts of wrongdoing.

“This is a great day,” stated one city’s police chief following a municipal vote to approve facial recognition. Such positive sentiment is routinely echoed in police departments nationally.

And commonly followed up with condemnation by a broad-based band of criminal law commentators, coupled with detailed explanations underscoring how materially problematic the police tool can be.

For one thing, say critics, facial recognition links immediately to controversy. The above-cited criminologist stresses that, “It’s very divisive right now because of all the things going on nationally.”

Here’s why: A recently filed federal lawsuit spotlighting a false identification and confinement charges that recognition software is largely based on algorithms fine tuned via analysis of Caucasian faces. People of color are allegedly “up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified using the technology.”

Another expressed concern: It’s one thing to focus on alleged criminal offenders, but what assurances does the general public have hat innocent individuals simply going about their daily business aren’t being tracked?

The misidentified litigant cited above seeks damages for “pain, suffering, humiliation, shame, embarrassment and emotional distress.”


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