Researchers have reported misuse of surveillance technology by New York Police Department. The Department misused the facial recognition technology to edit photos of few suspects and made them look like celebrity resemblances to make it easy for finding people involved in crimes. These findings were gathered from documents used in a two year long legal fight with NYPD. These were used in an inquiry by Georgetown Center. The inquiry was on privacy technology like facial recognition used by police throughout the country.
After the release of the report on May 16th 2019, there was a call for absolute ban on the use of such technology by police since this would increase number of wrongly made arrests. Senior Associate from Center on Privacy and Technology, Clare Garvie said that no matter how exact facial recognitions might come out to be, if the police have been editing photos or feeding wrong information inside the technology. Instead of getting any good lead or valuable information, what they would rather receive is misidentification. Also, it would be a severe violation if they have used it for their purpose and not communicated about it with defense lawyers.
Police, on their defense said that the facial recognition technology is used by them for comparing photos of unknown people to photos of their driver’s license, mugshots and booking photos. They have been using the technology to find solution for cases which would otherwise be left unanswered. They have also said that it is used as a device for general investigation and not for arresting random people.
In the Georgetown report, there was another accusation made for police in general. They permit the submission of criminal’s possible sketches into the facial recognition technology in Florida, Pinellas Country, Maricopa County, Washington County, Arizona and Oregon. Sheriff of Washington County said in defense that sketches have only been used for the purpose of explanations on how the criminal might look and not as evidence to their resemblance in actual case.