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JPSO Used Facial Recognition Technology to Arrest a Man. The Tech Was Wrong


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The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office recently relied on the controversial technology to arrest a Georgia man for theft, but the tech produced a false match.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger July 12, 2017, at a United Airlines gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

Credit: David Phillip/The Associated Press

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office (JPSO) in Louisiana relied on facial-recognition technology to arrest an alleged purse thief, resulting in the detention of the wrong person, who is Black, for almost a week.

The case highlights the pitfalls of a technology that more U.S. law enforcement agencies are adopting, even as critics point to research showing bad matches at higher rates for some populations.

A 2021 study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that while the top algorithms are highly accurate, continuing bias existed in differing rates of false positives and negatives by race and gender.

In Louisiana, the New Orleans City Council this year rolled back a two-year ban on the technology and set some rules. The technology can only be used to generate leads, and all possible matches must undergo a peer review by other facial recognition investigators.

Elsewhere in the state, however, there is no regulation.

From The Times-Picayune
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