CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Moy on Facial Recognition Technology and Misidentifications

Laura Moy (Georgetown University Law Center) has posted Facing Injustice: How Face Recognition Technology May Increase the Incidence of Misidentifications and Wrongful Convictions (William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2021) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Does law enforcement use of face recognition technology paired with eyewitness identifications increase the incidence of wrongful convictions in U.S. criminal law? This Article explores this critical question and posits that the answer may be yes. Facial recognition is frequently used by law enforcement agencies to help generate investigative leads that are then presented to eyewitnesses for positive identification. But erroneous eyewitness accounts are the number one cause of wrongful convictions, and the use of face recognition to generate investigative leads may create the conditions for erroneous eyewitness identifications to take place. This is because face recognition technology is designed to query a large database of faces to find lookalikes, and sometimes an innocent lookalike will resemble a suspect so closely that police may mistakenly select that person as an investigative lead, and an eyewitness may be unable to tell the difference between the lookalike and the actual suspect. This Article explores this possible problem and offers policy recommendations to help address it.

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