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When facial recognition technology goes wrong

As technology has become more sophisticated, law enforcement officials have used it more and more to track down criminals and identify suspects. One technology that has become increasingly popular with law enforcement is facial recognition technology. Police often use video stills from crime scenes to identify suspects by their driver’s license photos.

Concerns about facial recognition technology

However, using facial recognition technology has come under fire lately. Legal experts have concerns about how ever-present cameras violate people’s privacy and how police use facial recognition technology with few regulations. Without limits, police can use facial technology to prosecute petty thefts more than more serious crimes. Also, facial recognition technology isn’t always accurate.

When facial recognition technology is inaccurate

A growing amount of research shows that facial recognition technology has higher error rates for those who are:

  • Black
  • Female
  • Between ages 18-30

Facial recognition technology also has up to 34% higher error rates for those who are dark-skinned verses those who are lighter skinned. Because of these error problems, some cities like Detroit have debated whether to use facial recognition technology to fight crime.

In one case, police arrested Robert Williams of Detroit in January 2019 for stealing about $3,800 in watches. He, however, mistakenly was identified as the perpetrator because of facial recognition technology. In a May 2019 incident, facial recognition falsely identified Michael Oliver in a larceny case.

Some criminal justice experts are concerned that errors in facial recognition technology could lead to wrongful convictions. Cognitive bias already has been shown to play a role in forensic science, such as forensic scientists’ bias influencing which evidence to pay attention to and which to disregard.

When convicted with facial recognition evidence

If you find yourself convicted on the basis of facial recognition tech evidence, you should consult an experienced attorney. You may be able to overturn your conviction if the technology made an error.

You don’t want a mistake to impact your life for years to come, even beyond if you serve jail time for a wrongful conviction. You could have your name and record cleared – giving you a true clean slate.