One late November afternoon, a woman walked into a Wilco Farm store and stuffed a $130 Georgia boot into her bag and walked out.
Twenty-four hours later she surrendered herself.
You might probably be wondering how did she have such a change of morals and ethics because she didn’t. It was facial recognition or the same technology that lets you unlock your mobile phone.
The investigation could be speeded up because of Amazon’s Rekognition which helped Washington’s county sheriff office to create their own database of county jail mugshots. A WCSO deputy watched footage of the woman stuffing her purse with the boot, grabbed pictures of her face and ran it through their database. He quickly got a digital lineup of mugshots and quickly got a possible match.
When the deputy spoke to the woman the next day, she confessed to her crimes.
Facial recognition is a technology that represents a watershed in policing tactics, helping the police solve problems within hours instead of days. The Federal Bureau of Investigation now uses facial recognition while other police forces are looking into the technology.
But it brings forward the question – Is the police bringing in machine guns in a knife fight?
It raises questions regarding the application of such technology on a broader spectrum but the use of such sophisticated technology – analyzing mugshots and applying deep learning – on such petty crime situations.
Apparently, this technology has been developed to solve petty issues, for example, a woman stole a $12 gas tank from an Ace Hardware store. The revelation of Amazon’s brilliant technology behind Rekognition and its law enforcement partners undermines the value of using facial recognition for everyday policing.
According to CNET, five of seven such crime reports have been solved using Rekognition. Matt Cagle, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, has called for putting an end to the usage of this technology for everyday policing. According to him, the creation of a facial recognition database isn’t justified by the investigation of petty crimes.