The New York Police Department used photos of actor Woody Harrelson to arrest a man who was accused of stealing beer from a CVS after officers concluded from a partial photo that the suspect looked like actor Woody Harrelson. Facial recognition software was used to make the arrest in 2017, according to a report released today by the Georgetown University Center on Privacy and Technology.
Georgetown researchers are calling the incident representative of the risks associated with unregulated use of facial recognition software by police in the United States.
The report, titled “Garbage In, Garbage Out: Face Recognition on Flawed Data,” also found that police departments, including the NYPD edited photos — including copying facial features from photos of other people — in order to get a match.
At least half a dozen police departments across the country use composite sketches to search facial recognition databases containing driver’s license photos.
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