Should I Be Worried About Facial Recognition Software?
If you recently bought a new iPhone, you probably use Face ID to unlock your phone. Did you know that law enforcement agencies across the country have started using similar software to find suspects of crimes, even if they have no prior criminal history?
How does it work and what are some existing issues?
Law enforcement agencies utilize facial recognition software which uses machine learning algorithms to map suspects’ faces using a collection of data sets and then compares those results against law enforcement databases of mugshots. Third-party vendors can also be used and are even more dangerous to the public because they can compare the map of a person’s face to the potentially billions of photos in their databases that they’ve collected from social media websites. This means individuals that have never had contact with law enforcement can be implicated in crimes if the software matches a photo they posted on Facebook to the image of someone allegedly committing a crime.
Additionally, facial recognition software is known to have difficulty identifying Black and Latino individuals, which could lead to inaccurate arrests and increase racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
What are the existing laws surrounding Facial Recognition Software in Minnesota?
While Minnesota does not have any specific laws addressing law enforcement’s use of facial recognition software in identifying alleged perpetrators, the City of Minneapolis has recently limited the use of facial recognition technology. The Minneapolis City Council voted in February of 2021 to ban the use of facial recognition software by police and other city agencies, including the use of third-party vendors. This ban, however, does not bar the use of the technology by private businesses.
A Buzzfeed investigation in April 2021 revealed that 42 Minnesota law enforcement agencies have used facial recognition software recently, many of which used a third-party vendor. This list includes state agencies and many large cities, such as St. Paul, St. Louis Park, and Woodbury.
What should I do if I am charged with a crime after being identified via the use of facial recognition technology?
The use of facial recognition technology brings concerns of individual privacy and violations of constitutional rights. Contact a lawyer to discuss how to fight against the use of facial recognition technology in your case.