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Connecticut criminal defense attorney for facial recognitionTechnology is always improving, and as computers get faster and more efficient, more and more people have welcomed these devices into their homes and used them in nearly every aspect of their lives. However, many people do not realize the full extent that these systems play both on the personal level and in society at large. One issue that has affected people in recent years is the increased use of facial recognition technology in criminal cases. Police officers and law enforcement officials regularly use these tools to identify suspects and make arrests, but the limitations of technology and the biases built into these systems may result in wrongful arrests or convictions.

Problems With Facial Recognition

The use of automated facial recognition tools has become widespread in the United States, and unfortunately, it is not always clear when law enforcement is allowed to use this technology. Regulations vary from state to state, and while some cities have banned the use of facial recognition by police officers, most states have not placed any limitations on when or how these tools can be used.

Police may use facial recognition in a variety of ways, such as by comparing photos of suspects with a state’s database of driver’s license photos or a city or state’s collection of mug shots of people who have previously been arrested. In some cases, law enforcement officials may even use tools sold to them by private contractors that search through photos that are available online, such as on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.

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 Connecticut criminal law attorney for facial recognition evidenceSince the 1990s, facial recognition technology has become more and more common. What was once just wishful and futuristic thinking is now present in our everyday lives in the United States. Home security devices use facial recognition to identify whether or not a visitor is someone you know. Some airports have implemented facial recognition software at check-in terminals to confirm your identity when you fly. Perhaps the most disturbing use of facial recognition technology is when it is used by law enforcement officials in criminal cases.

Federal Agencies Use Facial Recognition Technology

According to The Washington Post, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been using various states’ driver’s license databases to access photos of millions of Americans without their knowledge or permission. The FBI has long had access to biometric data such as DNA and fingerprints -- but that data was taken from criminal suspects. The majority of the estimated 640 million photos the FBI has access to are of Americans who have never been charged with a crime. Facial recognition searches have become a routine investigative tool by the FBI, but many have argued against the effectiveness of this relatively new technology.

Many Claim Facial Recognition Is Too Inaccurate to Be Used in Law Enforcement

Aside from the privacy concerns that many Americans and lawmakers have, there have also been concerns about the accuracy of facial recognition software in correctly identifying a person. The California American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conducted a study in which photos of the 120 members of the state legislature were run through facial recognition software marketed to law enforcement agencies. Results from the study concluded that one out of every five lawmakers (26 people) were incorrectly matched with people in a database of arrest photos. Even more concerning was the fact that nearly half of those who were incorrectly identified were people of color.

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