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Advanced Policing Technology May Threaten Basic Privacy

Did you know that half of all adult faces in the U.S. are filed in law enforcement records and can be viewed by police with face recognition technology? That's what researchers discovered in recent study findings at Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy & Technology in Washington, D.C.

According to the study, titled The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America, one in four law enforcement organizations have access to the faces of over 117 million American adults. Most of these individuals have never been convicted of or even charged with a crime. What's more, there are essentially no legal restrictions or oversight regarding the use of the facial recognition database.

Facial Recognition Technology and Privacy Laws

When used correctly and ethically, facial recognition is a powerful tool that can improve public safety. But the technology isn't perfect, and has some troubling flaws. A 2012 study from an FBI expert revealed that the technology is less accurate with the faces of women, young people and African Americans.

Moreover, there are also examples of potential misuse of the database. The report reveals that Baltimore police used the technology in the spring of 2015 to identify individuals who protested the police killing of Freddie Gray.

The Future of Criminal Law and Privacy 

States have begun to implement new privacy laws that seek to put limits on facial recognition technology, but there is much work still to be done. Frankly, technology advances far faster than laws that restrict its use, which presents a serious problem for the privacy rights of all Americans.

Technologies change, but constitutional rights do not. If you have been charged with a crime, the evidence against you may have been obtained unlawfully. To better understand your rights and legal options, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.  

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Robert D. DiDio
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