Facial recognition technology used by police raising civil rights concerns

WASHINGTON, USA – a report by the he Georgetown University Law Center found a database of 117 million law-abiding Americans, in 16 states, is being used by police for facial recognition of suspects, which may constitute violations of civil liberties. It is calling on Congress to enact laws to limit its use to criminal investigations.

Researchers say the database could be used to monitor political or religious speech and was found to contain a disproportionate number of African-Americans, raising other civil liberty issues because the algorithm is less accurate with pictures of black people and there is no method for determining racially-based errors.

Clare Garvie, an associate at the Georgetown University Law Center and author of the report said, “face recognition is a powerful technology that requires strict oversight.  But those controls by and large don’t exist today. With only a few exceptions, there are no laws governing police use of the technology, no standards ensuring its accuracy and no systems checking for bias. It’s a wild west.”

In the report suggests the databases should be limited to using police photographs and not driver’s licenses and other forms of identification;  law enforcement should eliminate innocent people from searches;  any searches that do include driver’s licenses should require a court order; a ban should be placed on any tracking of people for political or religious beliefs, race or ethnicity.


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