NYPD used celebrity doppelgängers to fudge facial recognition results

The New York Police Department abused its facial recognition system by enhancing suspects’ photographs ─ and by importing celebrity lookalikes ─ in an effort to determine individuals needed for crimes, researchers charged this week in a blistering report on legislation enforcement’s use of surveillance expertise.

The findings, culled from paperwork obtained in a two-year authorized battle with the NYPD, have been included in an investigation by the Georgetown Center on Privacy and Technology into police use of facial recognition throughout the nation. The report was launched Thursday amid calls by some cities, including San Francisco, to ban police use of the expertise altogether, a part of a rising resistance to a secretive method that critics say may enhance the danger of mistaken arrests.

“It doesn’t matter how correct facial recognition algorithms are if police are placing very subjective, extremely edited or simply mistaken data into their programs,” mentioned the report’s creator, Clare Garvie, a senior affiliate on the Center on Privacy and Technology who makes a speciality of facial recognition. “They’re not going to get good data out. They’re not going to get helpful leads. There’s a excessive danger of misidentification. And it violates due course of in the event that they’re utilizing it and not sharing it with protection attorneys.”

Facial recognition algorithms examine pictures of unidentified individuals to mugshots, reserving photographs and driver’s license photographs. Police are adopting the technology for use in routine investigations, saying it helps them clear up crimes that in any other case would go chilly. They say they use it as an investigative instrument and it’s not motive alone to arrest somebody.

The Georgetown report didn’t focus completely on New York police. It additionally documented insurance policies that it mentioned appeared to permit officers to submit artists’ sketches into facial recognition programs in Maricopa County, Arizona; Washington County, Oregon; and Pinellas County, Florida.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office “has truly by no means used a sketch with our facial recognition program for an precise case,” a spokesman said in a statement. “A sketch has solely been used for demonstration functions, in a testing surroundings.”

A spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office responded equally: “We do not use sketches with our facial recognition system,” the spokesman mentioned in an announcement.

The NYPD figures most prominently within the report.

The division has fought Georgetown’s efforts to obtain information about how its facial recognition system works, participating in a prolonged courtroom skirmish over what paperwork it might probably disclose. The division finally handed over 1000’s of pages of paperwork, however has since tried to get the researchers to return a few of them, saying they were confidential and shared inadvertently. Those disputed paperwork weren’t used as a supply for the report launched Thursday, Garvie mentioned.

An NYPD spokesperson mentioned in an announcement Thursday that it “has been deliberate and responsible in its use of facial recognition technology” and has used it to clear up a wide range of crimes, from homicides and rapes to assaults within the metropolis’s subway system ─ in addition to in investigations of lacking or unidentified individuals. The spokesperson didn’t dispute something within the Georgetown report, however mentioned the division is reviewing its “facial recognition protocols.”

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