Raleigh PD has stopped using a facial recognition app to identify potential criminals through the Internet, cutting ties with a company that has drawn widespread privacy concerns from the community.
(TNS) — Raleigh police have stopped using a facial recognition app to identify potential criminals through the Internet, cutting ties with a company that has drawn widespread privacy concerns.
In August, the department paid $2,500 to Clearview AI for one year’s access to its app, which collects pictures from Facebook, YouTube and other public sites, spokeswoman Donna-maria Harris said late Tuesday.
Only three Raleigh Police Department employees were allowed to access the app, Harris said, and their searches were limited to finding victims of human trafficking or other major crimes when no other leads existed. Results of their searches were not the only evidence leading to charges, but were verified through other sources.
In February, Harris said, the department tried to find out how Clearview AI had used its system in the past but did not get an answer that satisfied its internal audit. The app will not be used further, and the department will review its facial recognition technology policy.
The Durham Police Department does not use Clearview’s app or other facial recognition technology, spokeswoman Kammie Michael said Tuesday.
Small start-up company
The New York Times ran a lengthy article in January highlighting the potential danger of Clearview’s technology. In it, the newspaper reported that the small start-up company had sent its technology to more than 600 law enforcement agencies, but no list of which departments could be determined.
Using the app’s coding, a viewer could “identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew,” the Times reported.
Representatives from Google told the Times they had refrained from putting out such technology because of the negative ways it could be used, the newspaper said, and cities such as San Francisco prohibit officers from using facial recognition.
In 2018, U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield of Wilson was incorrectly paired with a criminal mugshot, one of 28 senators and House members matched through a system Amazon was marketing to police, according to The Associated Press. The American Civil Liberties Union ran the tests, the AP reported, and identified people who were “disproportionately people of color.” The group asked for a moratorium on police use of face surveillance.
In the Raleigh Police Department statement, Harris said the department’s policy on facial recognition was written in 2015, predating Clearview AI, and “there is always a need to review policies as law and technology evolve. Facial recognition software is no exception.”
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