A New Jersey man is suing authorities he says wrongly arrested him based on a false facial-recognition match. The case has fueled debate over the accuracy of the fast-emerging technology, the Wall Street Journal reports. Nijeer Parks, 33, spent a week in jail after police detained him last year on charges of shoplifting, assault and drug possession related to an incident at a New Jersey hotel. The criminal case was dismissed in November 2019. Parks is seeking unspecified damages for false arrest, civil-rights violations and emotional distress. Police submitted for facial-recognition analysis to investigators in New Jersey and New York the picture from a driver’s license they collected from the suspect. Authorities responded they had a “high profile comparison” to Parks, which led Woodbridge, N.J., police to obtain an arrest warrant.
Police increasingly have adopted facial-recognition software. Advocates say it is an effective technology that has helped solve many cases, but the tools have drawn growing scrutiny because of the potential consequences of a false match. Many facial-recognition algorithms have been shown to be less accurate on nonwhite people, heightening concerns that the technology could contribute to racial bias in policing. A Detroit man, Robert Williams, was detained for more than a day this year based on a facial-recognition match to a suspect in a theft of watches; his case was reportedly dismissed for lack of evidence. Williams, like Parks, is Black. Jurisdictions have increasingly banned governments and police from using facial recognition because of concerns about the technology.