Mobile County Criminal Law Attorney

Facial Recognition

Protecting Rights in an Era of Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition technology (FRT) is an emerging global issue, with civil rights advocates sounding the alarm over the potential loss of our right to privacy. The technology sounds like a science fiction movie – identifying an individual by measuring facial characteristics, also known as biometrics.

It’s already happening. Your face is likely captured and stored in a database if you are an American adult. Opponents fear it could be used to keep a database of citizens, whether gathered at an office building in Mobile, airport security, or concert, to spy on them without their knowledge.

Privacy advocates warn about the increasingly pervasive technology advancing before guardrails are in place to protect privacy. It’s especially concerning if a Mobile resident is accused of a crime using face recognition.

Protecting Privacy

Many people feel this technology shouldn’t be used, even with restrictions. Anyone can be recorded, identified, and put in a database, no matter where they go, without their knowledge or consent.

Several laws have been enacted or are being considered to protect citizen privacy.

  • While it never became law, HB 499, a New Hampshire bill, prohibited the government from using facial recognition in public. There were exceptions.

Law enforcement could use FRT to surveil an area for less than three days and would only be able to run individual photos. A court order would be required to surveil a public space, and any information gained from the surveillance would be inadmissible in court.

An updated version of HB 499 required law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before using any facial recognition technology. The bill died in the Senate in May 2021.

  • Because of privacy concerns – the European Union’s draft Artificial Intelligence Act submits that public FRT use be restricted, while the European Parliament called for a ban on the technology.
  • In October 2023, the New York Department of Education voted to ban the use of FRT in schools, the first state to do so. That move happened after a report by the Office of Information Technology Services concluded that the risks of using FRT may outweigh the benefits.

The hope was that FRT would stop a school shooter from entering a school. However, another survey found that 70 percent of school shooters over the last 30 years were current students. That would not have triggered an alert.

The report also found that there is a high rate of false positives for women, older people, and people of color.

  • Several cities, including San Francisco and Boston, restrict their local government from using facial recognition technology. The ban does not extend to businesses. Washington State, Vermont, and Maine have limits on using the technology by government, law enforcement, or schools, requiring a search warrant if used in an investigation.

Portland, Oregon, has an outright ban on facial recognition use.

  • New York City bans on FRT do include the private sector. It stops stores, apartments, stadiums, and businesses from using the technology.

Your Mobile, AL Criminal Defense Attorney

Various proposals to protect the rights of citizens involve requiring a business to delete the recording three years after it is collected, a ban on selling the images, and a ban on police from using FRT technology at protests.

On the other side of the argument, FRT was helpful in one Florida defendant when the recording proved he was innocent of vehicular homicide.

Following Portland, Oregon’s lead, a slower adaptation of FRT involves transparency in the surveillance technology in use. When used for the public good, such as identifying victims of an earthquake, public trust is built.

Until then, Mobile criminal defense attorney Jason Darley recognizes that this imperfect science may falsely identify an individual as guilty of a crime, and individuals have already had their civil rights violated when facial recognition was used without providing the ability to challenge it.

The inconsistencies inherent in the technology have repeatedly misidentified individuals and been unreliable.

Mr. Darley is keeping up with the technology, its use in Alabama, and the resulting problems. He will explore whether you were deprived of your opportunity to challenge this emerging technology, especially if it is used as probable cause to make your arrest.

Attorney Jason Darley understands the evidence must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Mr. Darley will review your charges and investigate how facial recognition technology, the individuals using it, and the software may have biased your case.

Call his Mobile office to find out more at (251) 441-7772.



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