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LAS Shines Light on NYPD's Reckless Facial Recognition Program

A trove of documents obtained and released by The Legal Aid Society reveals how the New York City Police Department (NYPD) used Clearview AI – a controversial facial recognition software – to identify uniformed officers who were photographed drinking before another officer’s funeral.

The email was released via a Freedom of Information lawsuit brought by Legal Aid over the NYPD’s use of the Clearview app, and shows that the order to use the software to identify the officers was made by the Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, as reported by the New York Post.

The Clearview app was offered to the NYPD and individual cops, free of charge, during a 2018-19 pilot program launched to score a city contract. The NYPD later banned the use of any facial-recognition software by members not assigned to its Facial Identification Section or Intelligence Bureau over security concerns, although it has been reported that some cops continued to use the software after it was rejected in March 2019.

“Short of this litigation and these disclosures, the public would never know the extent to which NYPD employed Clearview — a controversial tool that other localities have banned outright,” said Jonathan McCoy of The Legal Aid Society’s Digital Forensics Unit.