Facial recognition being used to catch petty criminals

Blueneck

Former Staff
Jun 2007
53,794
40,289
Ohio
#1
On a Saturday afternoon in late November 2017, a woman walked into a Wilco Farm store in Oregon, stuffed a $130 pair of Georgia Boots in her purse and walked out.

About 24 hours later, she turned herself in to the Washington County jail.

Her about-face didn't come from a revelatory change of heart or divine intervention -- it was facial recognition, the same kind of technology that lets you unlock your iPhone XS.

The speedy investigation was made possible by Amazon's Rekognition, facial recognition software that let the Washington County Sheriff's Office create its own searchable database of county jail mugshots. A WCSO deputy watched a surveillance recording of the woman pilfering the boots, grabbed pictures of her face from the footage and imported them into the sheriff's office's new tool. He quickly got back a digital lineup of mugshots and found a possible match.

When the deputy spoke to the woman the next day, she admitted to the crime and was charged with second-degree theft.
My biggest issue is the lack of accuracy this technology carries.

WCSO's system, though, is far from perfect. A slide in a Washington County training presentation pointed that out by showing a 93.5 percent match between O.J. Simpson and a mugshot of a white male with a mustache. It's erroneous matches like these that alarm civil liberties groups, who say police may use information like this to make false arrests or unfairly target minority communities.
If this system ID's the wrong person, it could result in disastrous consequences, and as we know with other technology, like tasers, if there's a way for cops to abuse some new toy, they usually will.

While Rekognition has been used primarily for lower-level crimes so far, Talbot noted that crimes are rarely isolated, so an arrested suspect in one of these lesser cases may have an outstanding warrant or has been arrested for a similar crime in the past.

He disagreed that Washington County's use of the technology would lead to blanket surveillance, saying that an internal tool to speed police work is nothing close to the dystopian scenario civil liberties groups are portraying it could become.

Addressing concerns of mass surveillance, he said: "We're not, we never have and we never will."
Of course not. You weren't going to use the battering ram on the wrong people's houses either.

Facial recognition overkill: How deputies cracked a $12 shoplifting case
 
Mar 2012
55,301
36,842
New Hampshire
#2
What bothers me is how they are starting to use these things in the name of security (remember the Patriot Act?) and screening concerts, sporting events etc. Supposedly they are looking for terrorists, but they could also be flagging wanted people on arrest warrants, deadbeat dads etc. Who knows what else? I am sure its all legal because its a public event but still I feel like we will never leave our home without some massive computer database holding our every movement forever in time. I remember when those EZ Passes came out for tolls and I wondered if they could track someone with them. I was told no that wouldnt happen they are for tolling. But now they do.
 
Nov 2015
5,737
1,872
UK
#6
My biggest issue is the lack of accuracy this technology carries.



If this system ID's the wrong person, it could result in disastrous consequences, and as we know with other technology, like tasers, if there's a way for cops to abuse some new toy, they usually will.



Of course not. You weren't going to use the battering ram on the wrong people's houses either.

Facial recognition overkill: How deputies cracked a $12 shoplifting case
It's good in that it may lead to a line of enquiry that does lead to the perpetrator. I don't think it would be used as providing evidence in a court of law, other than being an investigation aid.
 

Blueneck

Former Staff
Jun 2007
53,794
40,289
Ohio
#7
It's good in that it may lead to a line of enquiry that does lead to the perpetrator. I don't think it would be used as providing evidence in a court of law, other than being an investigation aid.
It's not being used for that now, but even if you're arrested (mistaken identity) and subsequently released, it can ruin your life.
 

StanStill

Former Staff
Dec 2013
12,625
14,081
Work
#9
It's good in that it may lead to a line of enquiry that does lead to the perpetrator. I don't think it would be used as providing evidence in a court of law, other than being an investigation aid.
I suppose, but is it good that there are millions of collection points all over the country? London is actually a trailblazer in cameras and facial recognition—there's barely a square inch of public space in that city in which there isn't a camera recording you. We're not far from the day when many of those cameras are accessible by police in real time. Need to find Joe Schmoe? Search his face, to find all the matches at ATMs and tollbooths and traffic cameras and your home telescreen.

He's coming.