FB pixel

Latest false arrest involving facial recognition in US sure to fuel backlash

Latest false arrest involving facial recognition in US sure to fuel backlash

Another arrest in the United States that relied on facial recognition has resulted in a horror story of misidentification and a lawsuit. The mistaken identification appears to have been made first by retail security professionals, rather than police, The Guardian reports.

A robbery at a Sunglass Hut in Houston, Texas was robbed at gunpoint by two men. In the aftermath of the robbery, an employee of Sunglass Hut parent company EssilorLuxottica contacted Macy’s, which is a retail partner of the company, as part of its investigation, according to the lawsuit filed by Harvey Eugene Murphy Jr. Footage from security cameras that the lawsuit claims are low-quality was fed into a facial recognition system, which returned Murphy as a match, and also linked him to two other robberies.

An EssilorLuxottica employee who The Washington Post refers to as the company’s head of loss prevention contacted Houston police to inform them that the perpetrator had been identified.

Murphy was in Sacramento, California the day the robbery occurred. But over a year and a half later, in October of 2023, he returned to Texas to renew his driver’s license. While at the DMV, he was arrested. He spent 10 days in the local county jail, and a few more at Harris County jail, before his alibi was confirmed and he was released. Before that, he says he was beaten and gang-raped by three other inmates. The 61-year-old also says the men threatened to kill him.

Murphy is suing Sunglass Hut, EssilorLuxottica, Macy’s and three allegedly involved individuals for $10 million.

Attorney Daniel Dutko took Murphy’s case, and found that the camera footage had been shared with Macy’s by Sunglass Hut, after which his client was identified. Dutko says the use of facial recognition is the only explanation for this sequence of events.

The arrest based on facial recognition misidentification follows half a dozen others in the U.S., which have already drawn congressional scrutiny. Murphy is white, but the misidentified individual in each of the other cases is Black.

The role of police in Murphy’s case, and the extent to which they investigated to confirm the findings of the retailer, is unclear.

Macy’s is known to have licensed facial recognition from Clearview AI, at least on a trial basis, as a loss prevention tool. But the retailer was sued over the deployment of Clearview in 2020.

Clearview agreed not to license its technology to private companies or individuals as part of a settlement with the ACLU in May of 2022, having established its core business in the law enforcement biometrics market. The robbery Murphy was arrested for occurred in January, 2022.

“Macy’s no longer has access to Clearview AI since February of 2020, well before this incident occurred,” Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That told Biometric Update in an email.

This post was update at 2:29pm Eastern on January 25, 2024 to include information from Clearview’s CEO.

Article Topics

 |   |   |   |   | 

Latest Biometrics News


Florida tosses mDL program into the Gulf

Florida’s mobile driver’s license has been shut down, making the state a rare case in the world of a place…


Physical, digital spoof detection for ID documents upgraded by IDScan.net

IDScan.net is introducing new tools to detect more instances of tampering on identity documents. The new features to detect physical…


Social media giants face the wrath of new Australian government committee

Australia continues to harden its stance on social media. In a release from the office of Minister for Communications Michelle…


New Zealand trust framework looks to onboard digital ID providers

In an interview with Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Digital Identity New Zealand Executive Director Colin Wallis confirms that the country’s…


Google introduces passkeys for users at high risk of cyberattacks

Google users now have the option to use passkeys for account security in signing up for its Advanced Protection Program…


EU residency permits to exempt Brits from biometric checks at UK border

The UK government has confirmed its intention to implement the changes necessary to accommodate the European Union’s new digital Entry/Exit…


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Read This Week

Featured Company

Biometrics Insight, Opinion

Digital ID In-Depth

Biometrics White Papers

Biometrics Events