Wayne Boatwright
Feb 12 · 3 min read

Clearview AI built a massive database of faces that it’s making available to law enforcement, and nobody’s stopping it, reports VOX.

The Big Data revolution has transformed the social sciences just as the microscope and the telescope transformed the natural sciences. Big Data now allows for the scaling of the behavioral sciences from the individual to the crowd and from the realm of pseudoscience theory into causal application. Criminal Justice in Six Books

Photo by j k on Unsplash

New facial recognition technology may be used to target returning citizens. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” warns the Brookings Institute in a TechTank blog by Nila Bala and Lars Trautman. Most recent news stories focus on the facial recognition technology’s mistakes. For example, the ACLU conducted a test of Amazon’s new technology “Rekognition,” and the software misidentified 28 members of Congress as having a previous criminal record.

The Brookings Institute said privacy rights activists claim that in the near future it will work too well. For the roughly one-in-three Americans, who have some sort of criminal record, it would be an issue. Soon law enforcement will be able to instantly identify returned citizens, and they “will inevitably be targeted, despite having served their time,” the Brookings Institute warned. “Even a perfect facial recognition tool in imperfect hands can lead to unjust outcomes.”


“Privacy is shorthand for…self-development,” writes Julie Cohen, Georgetown University law professor. Such privacy is “vital for individuals returning to society with a criminal record,” the Brookings’ blog states.
Any privacy is uniquely harmed when biometric information (like facial recognition) becomes instantly available. Much activist attention focuses on the danger of a world where innocents are identified as guilty by a flaw in new technology. A much bigger risk is “a world where a guilty person can never be anything but a criminal,” states Brookings.

The possibilities do not look encouraging. “The few states that have enacted biometric privacy laws have made exceptions for law enforcement,” according to Brookings. Only a few cities have dealt with law enforcement surveillance risk. Given the growing efficiency of new biometric technologies, like facial recognition, a counterbalancing legal privacy right could aid both the employment and reintegration into a community of returning citizens.

If you are curious about prison life and the real work that goes on there, read The San Quentin News or listen to Ear Hustle.

 by the author.

Wayne Boatwright

Written by

Polymath, attorney, author. I am one of the Fallen. As Homer’s Odysseus, my journey is full of misadventure. How to rebuild your own life after TAKING A LIFE?

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