African Americans are more likely to be targeted by face recognition software
By Sidney Fussell, Fushion.net
On Tuesday, a 150-page report released by Georgetown University’s Center for Privacy and Technology found that an astounding 117 million Americans, nearly half of all adults in the country, have their images stored in face-recognition databases searchable by federal, state, and local authorities. The databases are compiled primarily from images like mugshots, driver’s license photos, passports and visa pictures. Georgetown found that 1 in 4 police departments use face recognition databases, more than 4,000 total departments. The FBI’s database, many times larger than those of local police departments, is also sourced largely from non-criminal images, meaning that inclusion in the face recognition database (unlike fingerprint and DNA databases) isn’t reserved for criminal suspects.
Titled “The Perpetual Line-Up,” the report finds that African Americans, who are arrested at higher rates and thus more likely to recur in databases, are disproportionately impacted because of the increased level of policing in black communities. The report notes that, in certain states, black Americans are arrested as many as three times that of their share of the population, over enrolling them in face databases. (For context, in 2013, Ferguson issued 1,500 arrest warrants for every 1,000 people in the mostly black city.) And the Maricopa County, Arizona police department “uploaded the entire driver’s-license and mug-shot database from the government of Honduras, a major source of immigration to Arizona.”