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IPFS News Link • Surveillance

Police in US cities that ban facial recognition asking others to do it for them

•, By Joel R. McConvey

Facial recognition has been prohibited in San Francisco since 2019. But Chesa Boudin, San Francisco's former district attorney, sums up the problem: "Police are using it but not saying they are using it." The Post says the SFPD have outsourced at least five attempts to make facial matches. Some of these were done by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), a "multi-jurisdiction program serving law enforcement agencies in the region." Others were farmed out to the Daly City Police Department. None were successful.

Police in Austin, Texas, however – also among the biggest U.S. cities to ban facial recognition – recorded 13 requests to a neighboring department for assistance with biometric face matching, and some of these led to arrests. Austin city employees are barred from using facial recognition as well as "information obtained" from the technology, with certain exceptions. But the suburb of Leander, just a 30-minute drive north of Austin, has no such restriction.

Leander's police force has access to Clearview AI, which has courted many law enforcement agencies in the U.S., despite lingering questions about whether its method of scraping the public internet for facial images is 100 percent consensual. According to the Post, the Leander force also has a recognized Clearview AI "influencer": Officer David Wilson, who performed several searches for the Austin force via Leander's Clearview account. Emails seen by the Post show that officers contacted Wilson directly for the express purpose of requesting facial recognition searches.

Clearview, to its credit, officially prohibits their clients in law enforcement from sharing access to accounts. Yet anyone with a Netflix subscription knows that formal rules only matter if they are enforced. Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That has publicly promised customers that Clearview will try and close the loophole that allows police to export results of facial scans, even if they cannot share access. But Wilson sent most of his facial recognition results to Austin via email.