How Facial Recognition Became a Routine Policing Tool in America - NBC Connecticut
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How Facial Recognition Became a Routine Policing Tool in America

Unlike DNA evidence, which is costly and can take a laboratory days to produce, facial recognition requires little overhead once a system is installed

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    In this Feb. 22, 2019, file photo, Washington County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeff Talbot demonstrates how his agency used facial recognition software to help solve a crime at their headquarters in Hillsboro, Ore.

    The technology-driven revolution in policing is unfolding in big cities and small communities around the country, as more police departments purchase facial recognition software, NBC News reports.

    The government “facial biometrics” market — which includes federal, state and local law enforcement — is expected to soar from $136.9 million in 2018 to $375 million by 2025, according to an estimate by market research firm Grand View Research. Driven by artificial intelligence, facial recognition allows officers to submit images of people’s faces, taken in the field or lifted from photos or video, and instantaneously compare them to photos in government databases — mugshots, jail booking records, driver’s licenses.

    But these systems are proliferating amid growing concern that facial recognition remains prone to errors — artificial-intelligence and privacy researchers have found that algorithms behind some systems incorrectly identify women and people with dark skin more frequently than white men — and allows the government to expand surveillance of the public without much oversight. While some agencies have policies on how facial recognition is used, there are few laws or regulations governing what databases the systems can tap into, who is included in those databases, the circumstances in which police can scan people’s photos, how accurate the systems are, and how much the government should share with the public about its use of the technology.