Facial recognition blunder lands innocent man in jail
Facial recognition software allegedly sent an innocent black man to jail for a crime he did not commit. The man had never even set foot in the state where the robbery took place, however, issues with the technology misidentified him as the perpetrator.
Randall Reid says he has never been to Lousiana, and certainly never stole $10,000 of designer handbags. In fact, Reid was three states away in his home state of Georgia when the crime occurred. However, that didn’t stop New Orleans police from using facial recognition software to find and arrest Reid for the crimes.
Reid was on his way to meet his mother when he was arrested, and he was subsequent;y detained for a week. Luckily Reid was able to prove his whereabouts and had a decent alibi that helped prove his innocence. According to Reid’s lawyer, he is also 40 lbs lighter than the man captured on surveillance tape.
This isn’t the first time that facial recognition software has revealed its flaws, and it probably won’t be the last. According to reports, people of color and women are less easily recognized by facial recognition software than white males. So far, the software has led to at least three wrongful arrests.
Police are warned only to use facial recognition software to generate leads, however, it has been suggested that some police departments rely more heavily on the algorithms as evidence.
Added to the already concerning statistics of black men wrongly accused of crimes, and you’re looking at a perfect storm. To put it bluntly: being a black man in the USA could land you in jail, regardless of whether you committed a crime or not.
These days it’s difficult to escape facial recognition technology, and there are many examples of it being used for good things. However, there are limitations to this relatively new technology, and it should act as a warning not to let divisions of gender and color in training and developing the software bleed into biases in use.
It’s no different than car safety devices being only tested on male crash test dummies, leaving women and adolescents to be more seriously injured in car accidents. If this misuse of facial recognition continues, the result will likely be that of a car crash for the judicial system.
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe