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Step right up: Newest US police agency signs up for Clearview AI service

Step right up: Newest US police agency signs up for Clearview AI service
 

The Delaware State Police agency has been awarded at $15,000 grant to buy a subscription to a controversial biometric startup’s face-scraping service.

There are no state or local laws forbidding the state police from using the services of Clearview AI, but opposition cropped up soon after the public learned of the March grant.

According to reporting by news and culture publisher Delaware Public Media, the state’s Coalition for Open Government is asking questions about the purchase. The group has raised concerns about government transparency in the matter.

Proprietary algorithms are unlikely to ever be opened for inspection, which makes accountability dependent on the priorities of a private company.

And, right now, according to the story, it is unclear how the state could be assured that state police are following department policies regarding use of facial recognition software.

A police spokesperson said that only trained facial recognition examiners in the department can use relevant software. The department also limits how it is used, prohibiting it from being used to make arrests.

Opponents of police using Clearview had hoped they could stigmatize the company by pointing to algorithm errors and questioning who else should be able to use the service on individuals for unstated reasons. But the allure of the software appears to be winning out.

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