(Reuters) – Face recognition provider, Rank One Computing, said on Wednesday that it would "add legal resources" and look for other ways to prevent abuse after its software was involved in the first known illegal technology arrest in the United States .
Robert Williams, who is black, spent over a day in police custody in Detroit in January after Rank One's facial recognition software linked his driver's license photo to a surveillance video of someone who had shoplifted, the American Civil Liberties Union from Michigan (ACLU) said With.
The police have used facial recognition in convictions for over a decade. However, activists claim that increasing use requires greater precautions due to potential problems, including technological weaknesses in identifying black people.
In a video shared by ACLU, Williams says officials released him after they confirmed that "the computer" must have been wrong.
Separate guidelines from the Michigan State Police, which supported the Detroit authorities, and Rank One state that a face detection result should not be used as the basis for an arrest. Confirmation was lacking before the police arrested Williams, police said Wayne County Attorney Kym Worthy.
"This case should not have been brought up on the basis of the (police) investigation, and we apologize for that," said Worthy in a statement, adding, "this in no way compensates for the hours that Mr. Williams has spent in prison."
Her office said it did not know whether the police officers involved in Williams' case had been sanctioned.
The Detroit police declined to comment on Williams' case, but the department now limits the use of facial recognition to violent crime and house invasions.
Rank One CEO Brendan Klare said in an email that the Denver-based company will "add legal remedies to revoke the use of our software that violates our Code of Ethics and to technically review additional safeguards, which we can integrate into our software to prevent any potential for abuse. "
Rank 1 has cited concerns about facial recognition, in which blacks are misidentified, as "misunderstandings" and cited research by the US government about the high accuracy of top systems.
Instead, Klare said the main problem in Williams’s case was arrest by the police before sufficient evidence was available.
The ACLU has called on the Detroit police to ban facial recognition "because the facts of Mr. Williams' case prove both that the technology is flawed and that investigators are unable to use the technology."
Williams' arrest related to five watches totaling $ 3,800, taken from a Shinola store in October 2018.
Microsoft and Amazon stopped selling facial recognition to the police this month after nationwide protests called for an end to law enforcement tactics that unfairly target African Americans and other minorities.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave, additional reporting by Jeffrey Dastin, editing by Howard Goller, Tom Brown and Grant McCool.)