- Jun 2007
My biggest issue is the lack of accuracy this technology carries.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.
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.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.
Of course not. You weren't going to use the battering ram on the wrong people's houses either.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."
Facial recognition overkill: How deputies cracked a $12 shoplifting case