UK Cops Brag About Using Facial Recognition Software To Capture… A Shoplifter

Reuters/Amir Cohen

Facial recognition software is the law enforcement frontier. Rather than having to build a lineup, law enforcement can just run suspected criminals’ faces against the collected photos of criminals and non-criminals alike in hopes of a positive identification.

At this point, it’s still very touch-and-go. Technology hasn’t kept pace with law enforcement’s dreams of an accurate and speedy way of ID’ing suspects. As of 2008, the FBI was granting the contractor behind its system a 1-in-5 margin of error. Yes, a 20% chance of nabbing the wrong person was considered acceptable in a live system.

The technology continues to improve, but it still requires clear photos taken nearly head-on for best results. Despite these limitations, law enforcement agencies continue to take these systems live, almost always without putting together some sort of privacy/data disposal policy. But we’re all supposed to be fine with this because these agencies are using this tech to track down dangerous criminals and/or terrorists, right?

British cops used a new facial recognition system to snare a shoplifting suspect whom they say was automatically identified due to his resemblance to criminal relatives, The Register has learned.

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