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NYC Mayor Adams Wants More Facial Recognition Software for Cops

(by Julian Verdon | Reason) – New York City Mayor Eric Adams wants to expand law enforcement’s use of facial recognition software in an effort to combat his city’s growing gun violence. Experts say the software can violate privacy and civil liberties with its secret surveillance and propensity for inaccuracy.

“We will…move forward on using the latest technology to identify problems, follow up on leads, and collect evidence. From facial recognition technology to new tools that can spot those carrying weapons, we will use every available method to keep our people safe,” said Adams in a press release addressing his plan last month. He also calls for it in his Blueprint to End Gun Violence. 

The New York Police Department (NYPD) uses facial recognition software to match photos with those in its mugshot database. The NYPD also uses images scraped from social media. It then uses these images to track someone with its 15,000 cameras placed throughout the city, numbers documented in anAmnesty International report warning about the invasiveness of the program.

Michael Sisitzky, senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York, tells Reason that New York’s current surveillance operations can already track who goes where and when. He says spying would only be made worse with more facial recognition software, with the surveillance technology likely targeting minorities. He cites the government report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which said most facial recognition software misidentified Asians or African Americans 10 to 100 times more compared to white faces. Sisitzky says that facial recognition software may then misidentify minority suspects, leading police to target innocent people.

“The NYPD already disproportionately targets African Americans, and coupling that with facial recognition software would be bad,” says Sisitzky. In Detroit, Robert Williams was arrested after facial recognition software misidentified him as a different man sought for shoplifting watches. The software that the Detroit police “caught” Williams with was provided by DataWorks Plus, the same company that provides facial recognition software to the NYPD. Read Full Article >

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