back to article Can I phone a friend? How cops circumvent face recognition bans

Police in multiple major US cities have figured out a trick to circumvent bans on facial recognition technology. Just ask a friend in a city without any such restrictions to do it for you. It's not immediately clear how widespread such side-stepping of facial recognition restrictions in the US may be. According to the …

  1. DoctorNine
    Holmes

    "I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here."

    "Your winnings, sir."

    "Oh, thank you very much."

  2. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Maybe

    If you go on a cop binge on YouTube, there's plenty of videos where people won't identify themselves. They'll either give a false name or no name at all. In those cases I don't see why facial recognition shouldn't be used. Is the reason the person is being evasive is due to having a warrant out on them for a serious crime? That's often the case but there's enough instances where they are just being "persecuted" and "detained for no reason"/"rayciss". I just watched a couple of compilations with people that talked themselves into being arrested when they could have been polite and been excused in less than a minute. One claimed she was studying to be an attorney. Good luck with that as they don't issue licenses to people with criminal backgrounds.

    There might also be a need to find out who somebody is if they are seriously injured or dead. It's a question of how the system is being used. If people are being arrested in their homes at 4:30am based on nothing more than facial recognition from carp CCTV footage, that's a problem. That piece of information might be useful when combined with other evidence, but it shouldn't be taken as gospel.

    1. DS999 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Maybe

      Unless it is a situation where people are legally required to identify themselves to cops, why should the cops have a workaround? If they've committed a crime, arrest them and then you'll get your identification one way or another. If they haven't committed a crime, let them the fuck alone and go to a donut shop or something!

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Maybe

        We've had facial recognition in everyday use for literally hundreds of years. We know it as "the identity parade". Its not foolproof so defenders have to be on their toes to make sure that tenuous identities aren't the sole evidence in a criminal case, just one piece of a puzzle. Machine based recognition -- which isn't always facial -- is just an extension of this process and like the manual parade is prone to shortcomings and bias so this should be taken into account. (...and, surprise, the larger the field the more likely false positives)

        The danger is bamboozling juries to believe that just because "the computer said so" that its output is unimpeachable. Its not. Especially if it uses secret algorithms or other magic tricks unavailable to be tested by a defense. (So forget AI -- nobody knows how it works!)

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Maybe

          "Machine based recognition -- which isn't always facial -- is just an extension of this process and like the manual parade is prone to shortcomings and bias so this should be taken into account. (...and, surprise, the larger the field the more likely false positives)"

          Yes, it's a tool that has limitations. If somebody says there name is Bob and a FR scan gives a high probability that the person is John, it doesn't mean it's John, it means there's a big question mark around the plausibility that it IS Bob. If the person can produce verifiable proof that they are Bob, no problem, they're on their way (maybe). If it turns out that John is wanted on a rape charge, the police are going to want to be certain Bob isn't really John telling a tale.

          When a rhino sees something, it tells them to smell around to figure out what it might be. Their eyesight is poor and it's just a tool to alert them to a possible threat.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Maybe

        "Unless it is a situation where people are legally required to identify themselves to cops, why should the cops have a workaround? If they've committed a crime, arrest them and then you'll get your identification one way or another. If they haven't committed a crime, let them the fuck alone and go to a donut shop or something!"

        In the US, people are required to identify themselves to police officers when asked, full stop, as handed down from the Supreme Court (Minnesota V. Mimms I think). They would certainly be arrested if there is compelling evidence they committed a crime and if they still refused to identify themselves, they'd sit in jail as there would be no way to set a bond for their release. The police also want to make notes of the people they've detained while investigating an incident so if there are questions later, they know who was at that location. When somebody won't give a name, it sets off the officers BS detector.

    2. markr555

      Re: Maybe

      It’s really quite simple, no-one (in the UK) is required to identify themselves to the police unless there is reasonable reason for the copper to suspect that the person has committed (or will commit) a crime. So when they refuse they are simply excercising their rights, or don’t you want people to have such rights? Sounds like you haven’t had direct dealings with police in a situation where they think it’s ok to bully the public, but plenty have, and they are free to excercise their right to point-blank ignore coppers if they so wish.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Maybe

      Your coat is the one with the matching jackboots?

  3. Tubz Silver badge

    Coppers acting like criminals, not shocked at all, isn't that part of the job requirements these days?

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