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As more agencies launch FRT programs, standard best practices should be discussed regularly to ensure this technology protects citizen’s privacy and civil liberties, according to a recent report.
Law enforcement has an opportunity to embrace advanced facial recognition technologies to keep communities safe, according to a report by the Major Cities Chiefs Association. FRT has the ability to combat criminal activity, identify persons of interest, develop actionable leads and close cases faster than before, the report states.
Facial recognition is used by companies, law enforcement and government agencies to capture people's images by video and photo to help identify unknown persons.
According to the report, there are three primary applications of FRT platforms: facial verification; field identification; and facial identification. All three applications serve a purpose and may play a role in law enforcement operations.
However, facial identification has widespread public and government concerns. Facial identification is a facial recognition system that can match any human face to a digital image or video frame.
The MCCA provides several recommendations development of a FRT program:
Having transparency between public and government stakeholders. Law enforcement agencies seeking to procure FRT platforms should engage both public and government stakeholders for feedback and transparency. The eventual outcome of any criminal investigation that utilizes FRT should be captured as part of the agency’s data collection process.
Giving accountability to members having specialized training. Access to an agency’s FRT platform should be limited to those members having specialized training in facial identification methods, and the application of the technology should be performed by individuals who are not directly involved with a particular investigation. According to the report, restricting access to an agency's FRT platform to only those members with specialized training will reduce contextual bias in particular investigations.
MCCA also recommends agencies wishing to implement FRT should collaborate with other entities that have developed robust programs.
Appointing responsibility to an FRT program manager. This person should be tasked with both the initial deployment and continued oversight and development of the FRT program. FRT examiner training should specifically include familiarization with standardized methods for performing facial identification, and the initial findings of an FRT investigation should be confirmed by a secondary examiner.
As more agencies launch FRT programs or acquire software that has FRT capabilities, the report states that standard best practices should be discussed regularly. This is to ensure this technology is being used with the best intentions, which include the protection of citizens’ privacy and civil liberties.
But not all public officials support the technology, and some believe there should be a ban on FRT. In Baltimore, for example, there was a bill passed that would temporarily restrict the city from purchasing facial recognition technology and temporarily restrict use by city agencies, residents and businesses (but not the police).
According to WMAR-2 News, there are noticeable cameras throughout Baltimore, on banks and other businesses, and city officials question what they're capturing and the purpose of its footage. Proponents of the bill cite misidentifications of people of color and the troubling effects of bias in the system as reasons to ban the technology.
The MCCA says its report serves as a comprehensive document containing recommendations and considerations for the use of FRT. This includes the processes, protocols, procedures and responsibilities a law enforcement agency should embrace within its use of the valuable technology.
For more information from the MCCA report click here.
Andre Claudio is an assistant editor at Route Fifty.
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