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IPFS News Link • Surveillance

Malfunctioning Facial Recognition Technology May Put Innocent Individuals at Risk

•, By Belle Carter

Government entities, including seven law enforcement agencies in the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justicehave instituted the use of facial recognition to verify or ascertain someone's identity using an algorithm that matches a human face from a digital image or a video frame against a database of faces.

However, the case of Harvey Eugene Murphy, Jr. is proof that flawed or misused facial recognition systems can put citizens at risk.

Murphy visited his home state of Texas to get his driver's license renewed at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Within minutes, he was approached by a police officer who notified him there was a warrant out for him. Murphy said he was not told any details about his supposed crime except for the date the robbery occurred.

"I almost thought it was a joke," Murphy said. The 61-year-old grandfather was arrested for the armed robbery of a Sunglass Hut in Houston. Murphy's alibi was that he was back home in California when the theft occurred.

In contrast to law enforcement's fast action on their "suspected" thief, investigations were too slow. In fact, by the time the Harris County District Attorney's Office figured he was nowhere in the robbery scene, three men had already sexually assaulted Murphy in a prison bathroom, leaving him with permanent injuries.

"Mr. Murphy's story is troubling for every citizen in this country," said Daniel Dutko, the lawyer representing Murphy. "Any person could be improperly charged with a crime based on error-prone facial recognition software, just as he was."

Murphy's case is the seventh known case of a wrongful arrest due to facial recognition in the U.S., further highlighting the flaws of a technology already widely adopted by police departments and some retailers.

The said technology is also being used by some British police forces, such as London's Metropolitan Police. It was also used last year to watch crowds at the King's Coronation, at a soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, a concert by singer Beyonce and during the F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone.