The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan is filing a complaint against Detroit police after they used facial recognition technology to wrongfully arrest Black man Robert Williams.
Williams was arrested on his front lawn on January 9 and locked up for nearly 30 hours after facial recognition technology owned by the Michigan State Police falsely alerted cops that Williams was a shoplifter they were looking for.
“Right now, I still think we are light-years away from actually having a 100% accurate finding of people when it comes to facial recognition, and this is proven, that it’s not 100% accurate. And if it’s not 100% accurate, then you have to use a different method when you’re talking about a human being’s life, when you’re talking about them going to prison or being arrested or being harassed,” Muhamed told hosts Bob Schlehuber and Michelle Witte.
“Also with the facial recognition, the issue is that it’s been proven that when it comes to people that are darker, it’s more difficult for computers to recognize and differentiate between people. So, once again it becomes a race thing, even if it wasn’t directly,” Muhamed added.
According to the ACLU, officers only realized they had made an error when Williams saw the surveillance image for himself. When an officer pointed at the picture and asked Williams if he was the man it depicted, Williams placed the image next to his face and responded: “I hope you don’t think all Black men look alike,” to which the officer replied: “The computer must have gotten it wrong.”
According to a Wednesday release by the ACLU, law enforcement should not be allowed to use facial recognition technology.
“This surveillance technology is dangerous when wrong, and it is dangerous when right,” the ACLU explained, also noting that invasive facial recognition technology has been shown to have much higher error rates when used against people of color.
“And we have long warned that one false match can lead to an interrogation, arrest, and, especially for Black men like Robert, even a deadly police encounter. Given the technology’s flaws, and how widely it is being used by law enforcement today, Robert likely isn’t the first person to be wrongfully arrested because of this technology. He’s just the first person we’re learning about,” the ACLU noted.
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