Should Facial Recognition Be Used in Policing?

Earlier this year, The New York Times broke the story and raised public awareness of a little-known facial recognition startup called Clearview AI, which sells their controversial technology to more than 600 law enforcement agencies and police units around the nation. CEO Hon Ton-That says the benefits of the technology include allowing police to identify criminals quickly and efficiently, often from a single photo uploaded to the service.

Facial recognition technology is already used in varying capacities throughout our nation. With an estimated 18,000 U.S. departments currently using the tool, many officers claim they have been able to break open cold cases, ranging from child sexual abuse to assault, as well as stop criminals from leaving the country illegally. There are countless beneficial uses of this technology, but also many unknowns and concerns over issues like privacy and bias. Used with wisdom and abundant transparency, this type of technology might indeed revolutionize safety in our communities. But adopted too quickly, or without adequate understanding of its various possibilities, it might also lead to dangerous or even deadly injustices.