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NYPD Is Using Controversial Facial Recognition Software

The Legal Aid Society released documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Article 78 settlement which detail the extent to which the New York City Police Department (NYPD) employed Clearview AI – controversial facial recognition technology – on unsuspecting New Yorkers, as reported by Bronx News 12.

View the FOIL documents here.

The documents reveal that:

  • various commands within the NYPD used Clearview AI on cases, despite a prior claim to the New York Post to the contrary. In fact, a member of the NYPD’s Identity Theft Squad cataloged “success stories”. It remains unknown whether any of this information was disclosed to defense attorneys on the cases where Clearview AI was used;
  • approximately 50 members of the NYPD had access to or an account with Clearview AI during the time period the records cover. The ranks of members using or directing others to use Clearview ranges from police officer to deputy commissioner, including an account being created for Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, at the apparent request of the Deputy Inspector of the FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force;
  • at the apparent direction of Deputy Commissioner of Internal Affairs Joseph Reznick, Clearview AI was used in an attempt to identify other members of the NYPD;
  • the NYPD was apparently introduced to Clearview AI by an employee of Rudin Management Company, one of the largest privately owned real estate companies in New York City.

In addition to the above, the documents revealed that NYPD officers used Clearview AI on their personal devices, and had received login name and password information in clear text from Clearview AI via e-mail, which is the touchstone of negligent cybersecurity practices. This and other factors call into question the sufficiency of both Clearview AI and the NYPD’s cybersecurity measures and enforcement.

“It’s our belief that facial recognition technology right now is too unreliable, to serve as a basis for either generating investigative leads by the police, or use any judicial proceeding,” said Jonathan McCoy, a staff attorney with the Digital Forensics Unit at The Legal Aid Society.