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Lawsuit filed in US cross-country arrest allegedly based on face biometrics

Lawsuit filed in US cross-country arrest allegedly based on face biometrics
 

A federal suit in the U.S. has been filed by a Black man who says he was falsely accused of credit-card fraud using a police facial recognition algorithm. Damages have not been made public.

According to the Associated Press, Randal Quran Reid was taken from his car after being arrested along an interstate in his home state of Georgia. A warrant issued hundreds of miles away by parish police in the state of Louisiana had been issued, according to Reid, based on misuse of face-matching software.

The plaintiff claims facial recognition software was the sole “credible source” used by Louisiana police to issue a warrant. One of the few restrictions that most (but not all) developed-economy government agencies agree on for biometric matching is that a software result cannot not be the only reason for an apprehension.

The AP story states that at least five Black plaintiffs have filed similar suits, three of which allege misuse of or flawed facial recognition software in Michigan. Lawsuits go as far back as 2019.

Although accuracy varies significantly among algorithms, the code as a category is often alleged to be measurably less accurate when matching faces that do not belong to middle-aged White cis males.

The latest plaintiff, who prefers to go by Quran, names Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto and parish detective Andrew Bartholomew in the suit. Parishes are analogous to counties elsewhere.

He is charging Bartholomew, the detective, with false arrest, malicious prosecution and negligence, according to the AP. The sheriff is accused of not implementing adequate biometric software protocols.

Bartholomew allegedly used face-matching software to link Quran to the June 2022 theft of two purses valued at $8,000 from a New Orleans consignment story, according to the AP.

Quran claims that that match was the only substantive step the police in New Orleans took to link him to the crime and issue a warrant for his arrest. Held for days before being released, Quran maintains that he has never been to Louisiana and can prove he was not in that state when the crime was committed.

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