The Los Angeles Police Department has announced that its officers are no longer allowed to use any third-party facial recognition software. The edict stops short of a full ban, since officers are still allowed to use the in-house Los Angeles County Regional Identification System. That system matches new images against existing criminal booking photographs, and has been used to conduct nearly 30,000 searches since 2009.
The decision to ban outside software was made with an eye toward Clearview AI, and comes shortly after Buzzfeed called the LAPD’s attention to the use of the controversial platform within the department. Buzzfeed has reported that 25 LAPD officers have used Clearview to perform roughly 475 searches, and the LAPD has since confirmed that at least two officers did so in the course of an investigation, one of which led to an arrest. However, it is not clear if facial recognition led to that arrest, or if it was based on other evidence.
Other officers experimented with Clearview using images that were not part of an official investigation. The officers who did use it during an investigation carried out searches with images pulled from security cameras.
While LAPD officers will not be allowed to use third-party systems going forward, the department confirmed that those who did so before the ban will not face any punishment, since there was no rule against it when those searches were conducted. The department is now performing a more extensive review to see whether or not its officers have been using any other third-party technologies. The ban itself also prevents officers from fulfilling facial recognition requests for agencies outside the department.
Any officers with access to Regional Identification System will receive training, and must obtain a certificate before using it. The LAPD had previously denied using facial recognition, but was forced to retract those claims in September after a public records requests exposed the department’s decade-long use of the technology.
Clearview primarily marketed its technology to law enforcement agencies, and often did so without the knowledge of department heads. The company has terminated its contract with the Chicago Police Department in response to a BIPA lawsuit.
Source: Los Angeles Times
November 18, 2020 – by Eric Weiss