Facial recognition identifies him, he is wrongly arrested and jailed

Facial recognition identifies him, he is wrongly arrested and jailed

Violet Field inHigh TechDec 31, 2020 2 min read7 views

This African-American was jailed for ten days for theft in 2019 after being wrongly identified by facial identification software when he had an a

Facial recognition illustration - Steven Senne / AP / SIPA

Nijeer Parks, an American, sued police and the town of Woodbridge, New Jersey, after suffering a 33-year-old African facial recognition error. In early 2019, the man was arrested for a robbery in a hotel shop and jailed for ten days, NBC News reports. Identification software had confused him with the perpetrator.

Warned by his grandmother that a warrant for his arrest had been issued, the thirty-something went to the police station to dispel the misunderstanding. He had in fact an alibi confirming his presence far from the hotel at the time of the facts. The thief had hooked up a police vehicle while fleeing. However, Nijeer Parks explained that he had neither a car nor a driving license.

Thousands of dollars spent on his defense

The American was however placed in detention while a comparison of his fingerprints or his DNA profile with those of the criminal would have exonerated him. The charges against him were eventually dropped. Nijeer Parks, however, had to spend thousands of dollars to defend himself, ABC reports. Investigators "relied solely" on facial recognition, lamented the plaintiff's lawyer.

The latter described this type of software as "defective and illegal".He regretted that the police acted "after all scientific records and evidence showed that [Nijeer Parks] had no connection with the crime suspect." Many voices have been raised to denounce the malfunctioning of facial recognition systems when suspects have dark skin.

"This technology disproportionately harms the black community," said Nathan Freed Wessler, a lawyer in a civil liberties defense association. He also accused facial identification programs of being at the origin of "many other hearings, arrests and perhaps even wrongly convictions".