In the past weeks, big companies like Microsoft and Amazon have announced that they will no longer provide facial recognition technology to police departments across the United States as it could be used wrongly, such as the wrongful arrest by an innocent man in Detroit. 

The Wrongful Arrest of Michael Oliver

In a report by Engadget, a false facial recognition match led the Detroit police to arrest the wrong man, the second-known case to have happened in the U.S. up to date.

Based on the report, the police in Detroit was looking for a man who reached into someone's car to get their phone and then threw it on the ground, breaking the case and the screen in the process.

The crime happened in May 2019

The police department then used facial recognition software to catch the culprit, but it flagged an innocent man named Michael Oliver as a possible suspect, who the police caught and charged with a felony count of larceny after the victim identified him in a photo lineup.

Nevertheless, Oliver insisted that he was innocent, and he did not do the crime, and evidence was in favor of him.

For one, the suspect in the video did not look like Oliver, especially as the perpetrator had a tattoo on his arm, while the man they caught obviously did not have them.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the man was soon discharged after his attorneys took photos of him and brought them to the victim and the assistant prosecutor, who both agreed he had been misidentified, and soon, a judge dismissed the case.

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The Two Cases of Facial Recognition Fail

Apparently, this was not the first time a facial recognition technology has made the same mistake.

Based on the news outlet, a man named Robert Williams was detained for almost 30 hours for a crime he did not commit when facial recognition technology also flagged him as a possible suspect on a high-profile case that was filed earlier this year.

These two cases appear to be the first and only ones reported in the U.S., and both Oliver and Williams were black men.

Changing the Rules

Oliver's arrest happened before the Detroit police changed their rules. Facial recognition technology will only be used for violent crimes, especially as Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the tech is not accurate.

"If we were just to use the technology by itself, to identify someone, I would say 96 percent of the time it would misidentify," the police chief said in a public meeting held late last month.

Additionally, Wayne County's top prosecutor will also be reviewing all the facial recognition cases if charges will be laid to avoid any other misidentification that would put an innocent man to jail.

In the ongoing protests for the BLM movement, facial recognition software has been deemed as dangerous, especially to protesters, by several groups and organizations, which is why they have been calling out the Congress to abolish the use of facial recognition software or to create better policies surrounding its use on the force.

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