Facial Recognition Fail: 2,300 People Falsely Identified As Potential Criminals

surveillance facial recognition

Facial recognition is one of the hottest topics today and not just because it offers easy smartphone authentication. Companies and authorities believe it can make a difference in the surveillance industry.

However, the technology is not flawless, being criticized for giving false positives. Now, one report from the South Wales Police is bound to add fuel to the fire.

Out of 2,470 initial matches from the face recognition trial held at the 2017 Champions League final, 2,297 of them were false positive!

That means that the South Wales Police wrongly identified 92% of the people and flagged them as suspicious. Fortunately, the Police made no arrests, so no one was actually taken into custody based on flawed facial recognition.

According to the authorities, the false flags can be blamed on poor quality images and an under-developed technology. They insisted on pointing out that they had used facial recognition previously and made 2,000 positive ID matches in 9 months. In that period of time, police officers made 450 arrests, with not a single person mistakenly taken into custody.

The system used in South Wales relies on interpreting live feeds from CCTV cameras:

“AFR ‘Identity’ allows officers to load images of persons of interest and compare them against our 500,000 custody images to see if there is a possible match on identification.

AFR ‘Locate’ is a real time solution which utilises live feeds from CCTV typed cameras based either at specific, fixed locations or cameras secured to the top of one of our vehicle fleet to locate persons on prescribed watch lists.”

In any case, the South Wales Police reassured the public that their information was in safe hands and that people flagged by facial recognition would not be treated automatically like criminals:

“Throughout the trial South Wales Police has been very cognisant of concerns about privacy and we have built in checks and balances into our methodology to make sure our approach is justified and balanced”.

Meanwhile, in China, officers already have sunglasses with facial recognition and private companies are combining blockchain with facial recognition for chickens. Yes, you read that right! China’s taking the lead these days.

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