Privacy Issues in Using Facial Recognition Software by Law Enforcement

Privacy Issues in Using Facial Recognition Software by Law Enforcement Privacy Issues in Using Facial Recognition Software by Law Enforcement

March 11, 20201 min read
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The Atlanta Police Department is just the latest in criminal investigation units  across the U.S. that have adopted facial recognition software to assist in police investigations. But privacy experts are cautiously watching the acceptance of this type of software for possible infringements of a citizen's privacy.


The software uses a person’s photograph to search the internet including social media accounts for additional images of a suspect. The process is called “scraping” and Deven Desai, associate professor for law and ethics at Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology expresses concern over the use of the controversial technique, which is becoming more commonly used by hundreds of police departments across the U.S.


 “The issue becomes one of what we like to call “technical accountability,” said Desai, who cites the reliability of the software, the privacy of citizens, and the length of time images are stored by the departments as just a few factors to consider. How long will a person's photograph be kept and for what means? These are just a few of the questions that continue to raise concerns among some experts who see this new technology as a potential for harm to the public at large. Before fully embracing facial software, the accountability for using this form of spying should be studied in more detail before the practice is adopted widely.


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  • Deven Desai
    Deven Desai Associate Professor, Area Coordinator for Law and Ethics

    Professor Desai is an expert in how business interests, new technology, and economic theories shape privacy and intellectual property law.

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