NYPD faces lawsuit for not revealing info about facial recognition program

May 3, 2017 - 

Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology (CPT) is suing the NYPD for allegedly failing to reveal information about its covert facial recognition program, according to a report by Engadget.

In its lawsuit, CPT alleges that the police department hasn’t complied with New York state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) by disclosing information about the system, which the NYPD began using for criminal investigations in 2011.

When various groups sent FOIL requests for training manuals and documentation, the NYPD said that it did not have any documents on hand.

The department, however, did submit a Chief of Detectives memo that detailed the protocol that officers should follow in submitting a request for a facial recognition search.

Although the document confirms that the program exists, it does not explain how it is used, how the it was developed and if there are any privacy protections in place when using the database of citizens’ faces.

The CPT’s lawsuit is also debating the NYPD’s claim that the purchase invoices for the program could not be requested by FOIL.

Elsewhere in the state, the NY DMV’s facial recognition system help lead to over 100 arrests since updating the technology in January 2016.

Last October, Governor Cuomo said he wanted to expand it to critical locations to scan 800,000 drivers that commute daily at the nine bridges and tunnels connecting the city’s borough.

In March, a New York Daily News opinion-editorial article by Clare Garvie and Alvaro Bedoya of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law addressed privacy concerns regarding Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to expand the use of facial recognition technology.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.