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Thursday 9th of July 2020

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She Was Arrested at 14. Then Her Photo Went to a Facial Recognition Database.

Friday 2nd of August 2019 | North America, United States
The New York Times
News

With little oversight, the N.Y.P.D. has been using powerful surveillance technology on photos of children and teenagers. The New York Police Department has been loading thousands of arrest photos of children and teenagers into a facial recognition database despite evidence the technology has a higher risk of false matches in younger faces.

For about four years, internal records show, the department has used the technology to compare crime scene images with its collection of juvenile mug shots, the photos that are taken at an arrest. Most of the photos are of teenagers, largely 13 to 16 years old, but children as young as 11 have been included.

Elected officials and civil rights groups said the disclosure that the city was deploying a powerful surveillance tool on adolescents — whose privacy seems sacrosanct and whose status is protected in the criminal justice system — was a striking example of the Police Department’s ability to adopt advancing technology with little public scrutiny.

Several members of the City Council as well as a range of civil liberties groups said they were unaware of the policy until they were contacted by The New York Times.

Police Department officials defended the decision, saying it was just the latest evolution of a longstanding policing technique: using arrest photos to identify suspects.

“I don’t think this is any secret decision that’s made behind closed doors,” the city’s chief of detectives, Dermot F. Shea, said in an interview. “This is just process, and making sure we’re doing everything to fight crime.”

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