This past Sunday, on his weekly half-hour HBO show, Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver discussed the growing prevalence of facial recognition technology in the criminal justice system. The issue is particularly relevant as protestors in the recent demonstrations demanding justice for George Floyd (and the numerous other BIPOC who have been subjected to violence by police) accuse law enforcement of using facial recongition technology and images from social media to identify and target them, seriously undermining their right to freely assemble.
While some in law enforcement tout the capability of facial recognition technology to help them prevent terrorist attacks, in the segment (available here) Oliver points out that even those developing the technology have reservations about its potential applications (See this article).
In addition to addressing the troubling implications that the use of facial recognition could have for privacy and civil rights, Oliver also discusses the issue of racial and gender bias in these kinds of technologies. While some assume that computers are not capable of the kinds of biases held by humans, it is important to remember that algorithms are created by people and therefore often have human bias built in. Studies have shown that facial recognition struggle to successfully identify women and people of color, which raises the possibility that arrests will be made predicated on false identifications made through facial recognition.
For additional information about the practices, risks, and limitations of facial recognition technology, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers held a webinar which is available here to view in its entirety.