Racist AI

Facial Recognition & Wrongful Arrests

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Mounting evidence proves surveillance tech is racist. So why won't anyone stop it?

This is a disturbing, yet critically important examination of how police departments nationwide are adopting rapidly expanding surveillance technologies for investigative purposes, despite glaring flaws. We feature the stories of two Black men from the greater Detroit area caught up in America’s ever-growing cyber-dragnet—cases made exponentially worse by a troubling combination of shoddy police work and discriminatory tech.

Voices in this Episode

Clare Garvie

Clare Garvie

Senior Associate with the Center on Privacy and Technology

Garvie was lead author on three of the center’s reports on face recognition, including: The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America in 2016; and Garbage In, Garbage Out: Face Recognition on Flawed Data and America Under Watch: Face Surveillance in the United States in 2019. In 2019 she also testified before the House Oversight Committee about police use of face recognition.

Andrew Ferguson

Andrew Ferguson

Law Professor at American University

Ferguson is a law professor at American University and an expert on predictive policing and emerging surveillance technologies. He's the author of “The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race and the Future of Law Enforcement."

Michael Oliver

Michael Oliver

Wrongfully Accused Michigan Man

Michael Oliver is a Michigan man who was wrongfully accused of a cell phone theft. The Detroit Police Department used error-prone facial recognition technology to identify Oliver as the suspect despite his innocence. Oliver is now speaking out against the technology, which he said he didn't know existed until his arrest. 

David Robinson

David Robinson

Detroit-based Attorney

David Robinson is a Detroit-based attorney for the firm Robinson & Associates. He previously worked for the Detroit Police Department both as an officer and an attorney. Robinson has sued the Detroit Police Department on behalf of his client, Michael Oliver, who was wrongfully arrested for a crime in which facial recognition technology was used during the investigation. 

Phil Mayor

Phil Mayor

ACLU Senior Staff Attorney

Phil Mayor is a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Michigan. His work includes criminal justice reform, poverty, racial justice, prison/prisoners’ rights, free speech, and immigrants’ rights. 

 

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Facial recognition technology poses a significant risk to our privacy and freedom, especially for Black and Brown Americans, according to opponents of this emerging tech. 

As is the case with so many other aspects of the criminal justice system, facial recognition is associated with a greater risk of misidentification of Black and Brown people because of inherent biases within the technology itself. 

Jurisdictions are increasingly adopting facial recognition in the name of security, but civil liberties and criminal justice reform advocates are concerned about the impact this technology will have on the broader population, as well as historically over-policed communities. 

What does this mean if you're simply walking down the street? You can easily be spotted, identified, and surveilled. 

For others, you can be wrongfully identified and accused of a criminal act. 

In this episode, you'll hear the stories of two Detroit-area Black men wrongfully accused by police using facial recognition technology. 

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Credits

The News Beat Podcast copyright is owned by News Beat, Inc.
© 2021 All rights reserved.

Design and production support for the News Beat Podcast is provided by Morey Creative Studios. www.MoreyCreative.com

  • Producer and Host: Michael “Manny Faces” Conforti
  • Editor in Chief: Christopher Twarowski
  • Managing Editor: Rashed Mian
  • Cover Art Design: Jeff Main
  • Executive Producer: Jed Morey