A tech-tidal wave is hitting the criminal justice system, transforming faces into license plates and your smart phone into a snitch.
These new technologies allow criminal-justice systems unparalleled surveillance capacity of vast amounts of data. The Economist magazine anticipates the future in the technology report “Justice Data Detectives.”
DATA FOR DETECTIVES
Technology has changed the relationship between information and crime in two ways: people create massive amounts of data and current laws have not kept pace with this change, reports The Economist.
Smartphones track and record where people go or whom they talk to and their apps reveal personal information on what they search, buy, read and watch.
To capture this data, police no longer need to follow or stake out a suspect nor get a warrant. They can seize the suspect’s phone and bypass its encryption. If he drives, police cars, streetlights and car parks equipped with automatic number-plate readers (ANPRS) that can track all movements and facial recognition software will confirm his identity.
Even your smartphone will snitch on you. “Uber filed for a patent on AI technology that can determine a potential passenger’s level of inebriation based on movements of his or her smartphone, as well as location near bars,” reports The Guardian.
Privacy laws have not kept pace with technology. The laws were written in the time of post offices and landlines. The courts generally give citizens protection from police entering a home, however, “the law on people’s digital presence is less clear.”
Law enforcement actions have become less visible to the public, but new technology is being widely used across the world.
“If you drive in a city anywhere in the developed world, ANPRS are almost certainly tracking you. This is not illegal,” reports The Economist.
Policy, due process and public opinion are lagging behind the uses of these new technologies.
“Police need oversight, not because they are bad people, but because maintaining the appropriate balance between liberty and security requires constant vigilance by engaged citizens,” concludes The Economist.
The ANPRS commonly monitor via street signals, police cars, parking garages and bridge tolls. Facial recognition software is coming.
Your face is now a license plate and watching cameras are police body-cams, store security cameras and every smartphone.
In China, facial recognition is “widely deployed” and used for everything from ticketing jaywalkers to finding thieves in a huge crowd, according to Maya Kosoff in The Week.
Amazon, America’s biggest e-commerce company, launched Rekognition recently – an online service to help identify faces in real time.
While amusement parks have used Rekognition to locate lost children, Amazon has also been pitching the technology to police departments, reports Nick Wingfield in The New York Times. The Orlando Police Department in Florida and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon are paying customers.
Last June, “more than two dozen civil rights organizations demanded that Amazon stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement, saying it could become an instrument of mass surveillance,” reports The Week magazine.
Police in Hagerstown, Md., have been among the first to admit using facial recognition software to identify a robbery suspect from an Instagram photo, according to The Herald Mail Media.
“Thirty-one states now allow police to access driver’s license photos in facial-recognition searches,” according to the Center on Privacy and Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center.
While Texas, Illinois and California have laws to regulate facial recognition technology, there are no federal laws.
Other countries, however, regulate the use of a citizens’ unique face information and other biometric data. The European Union has a General Data Protection regulation that requires private companies to have consent for its use of collection biometrics from citizens.
Privacy advocates have opposed such use in New York City. Police may only search mug shots, not driver’s license photos in their facial recognition searches.
“People provide their photo for a driver’s license database so they can drive…not become suspects in a criminal investigation,” said Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
A.I.-powered facial detection software has glitches.
It “can actually reinforce bias and exclusion, even when it’s used in the most well-intended ways,” accord to a New York Times opinion by Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League and a graduate researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. Buolamwini found that facial detection software was inaccurate when attempting to identify people of color.