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Disclose facial recognition in discovery, no live biometric surveillance: City police chiefs

Disclose facial recognition in discovery, no live biometric surveillance: City police chiefs

The use of facial recognition technology in criminal investigations should be included in discovery disclosures made by police departments during criminal trial processes, according to a police chiefs’ policy group. In general, the chiefs say, live facial recognition should not be used.

The 46-page ‘Facial Recognition Technology in Modern Policing – Recommendations and Considerations’ report was produced by the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), an organization representing police executives from dozens of the largest cities in the U.S. and Canada.

The reports’ 13 key recommendations fall under the familiar headings of “transparency,” “accountability” and “responsibility,” but the specific points depart significantly from universal practice.  How far they depart from common practice is more difficult to immediately tell, but would become easier if the suggestions under “transparency” are followed.

Those include public and government engagement by any agency looking to procure face biometrics, and collection of data about the eventual outcomes of investigations in which facial recognition is used.

Limiting access to the biometric technology to trained specialists not directly involved in the investigation, and specific documentation of potential leads generated with facial recognition are among the key accountability recommendations. The responsibility guidance urges a privacy-conscious approach to gallery creation, along with common best practice recommendations like the inclusion of a secondary examiner.

What is likely the report’s most striking guidance is not mentioned in the summary of key recommendations, but is bolded in the document, where the MCCA writes that best practice for law enforcement with real-time facial recognition surveillance “is to not utilize FRT in this manner except under the most exigent of circumstances or when explicitly permitted under legal authority (e.g., court order).”

The report goes on to address myths and misconceptions around the biometric technology, making reference to NIST FRVT findings, including on demographic differences and bias and an ITIF analysis, and discuss program design and management, and technical evaluation of facial recognition technology.

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