Does Face Recognition Work?

from the does-the-ACLU-know? dept

This one is weird. I have nothing against the ACLU, and like that I know they will fight for certain rights for people. However, I’m not sure they’re qualified to determined whether or not a face recognition system works. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean I think the ACLU knows that. How the ACLU has determined that the system doesn’t work is unclear. They seem to base it on the fact that a 12-month trial was ended after only 2 months in Florida – and it didn’t find any criminals. Of course, the police department who was using the system said there were other reasons why they stopped the trial. I think the ACLU is claiming victory a little too early here. Anyway, whether or not these systems work, I still think there’s a debate to be had about whether they should be used.

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Comments on “Does Face Recognition Work?”

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Bryan (user link) says:

They don't have to be qualified?

This is something that I just read. It explains in a nutshell why they claim it.

To: Declan McCullagh
From: Barry Steinhardt
Subject: Drawing A Blank — ACLU Report on the Failure of Face Recognition in Tampa


The use of the biometric facial recognition technology, along with video surveillance on the streets of Tampa, Florida is an overhyped failure that has been seemingly abandoned by police officials, according to a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union.

System logs obtained by the ACLU through Florida’s open-records law show that the system never identified even a single individual contained in the department’s database of photographs. And in response to the ACLU’s queries about the small number of system logs, the department has acknowledged that the software — originally deployed last June, 2001 — has not been actively used since August.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: They don't have to be qualified?

Yeah, that’s in the article too. But it doesn’t make a very good argument. Did the system have to catch a criminal in two months to be useful? Who set that rule? Who knows? I just don’t think that (1) it’s a valid test or (2) that the ACLU can make that claim with any legitimacy.

What if the system had caught a criminal in the first week, but never again? What if it caught a criminal in the first week of the third month?

The police department itself says they stopped using it for different reasons not having to do with its effectiveness. The ACLU spins it as though they stopped because it didn’t work. I think the folks who made the decision have a better understanding of why they stopped than the ACLU…

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