After the riots on the Capitol, controversy over facial recognition technology

Pro-Trump supporters on Capitol Hill – Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP / SIPA

The use of the facial recognition tool developed by Clearview AI grew by 26% on Thursday, January 7, the day after the Capitol was invaded by supporters of Donald Trump. This peak in use revealed by the CEO of the company Hoan Ton-That is due in large part to the investigations carried out by various police departments in the United States. However, the app is not unanimous.

Many videos and photos of the rioters circulated on social networks. The majority of them did not wear masks. The FBI was therefore able to isolate the faces of the suspects and request the help of the country’s law enforcement agencies to identify them, reports the New York Times. Dozens of portraits were thus transmitted. Police departments using Clearview to assist the FBI include those in Miami and Oxford, Alabama, the Wall Street Journal.

The operation of the denounced tool

Clearview AI has claimed its software is used by 2,400 police departments in the United States, says The Verge. The facial recognition program is, however, the subject of criticism regarding the judicial errors it can cause in the hands of investigators. Its opponents also see it as a risk of obstructing the right to privacy. They also point out how the tool works.

Other apps of this type used by law enforcement compare images of a suspect to photos of identity papers and snapshots taken during arrests. Clearview, on the other hand, uses a database of more than 3 billion files, mainly from social networks and other online sources. The police services concerned have ensured that the information provided by the software is matched with other forms of investigation.

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