Is facial recognition technology the new version of the fingerprint in future criminal cases?
There was a time when fingerprint analysis wasn’t accepted in court — and now its reliability is once again under fire from many credible sources that say it isn’t as accurate as people — and jurors — have long been led to believe. Other types of physical evidence once common in American courtrooms have also either fallen out of favor or been deeply brought into question — including things like hair follicle analysis and bite mark analysis.
The problem with all that physical evidence and expert analysis is that it all still has a very subjective element that can tilt the results an expert gets. That’s what makes the news about a challenge to Florida’s use of facial recognition to convict a man of a drug crime so troubling. Once again, there is a huge potential for subjectivity to affect an expert’s analysis, and again the court is choosing to ignore this problem.
At issue was the conviction of a man authorities claimed they’d identified as the drug dealer who sold $50 of crack to an undercover officer. They had identified him after using face-matching software to generate a lead. The defendant claimed that he was misidentified by the analyst the police used. The defendant appealed his conviction on several grounds, including the fact that he wasn’t permitted to see the other potential “matches” found by the software.
His appeal was denied. As his attorney noted, this means that Florida’s police officials are essentially able to use technology that has “little to no public awareness, no uniform standards governing its use, and no public oversight by the Florida Legislature.”
While this is apparently one of the first appeals involving facial recognition technology, it’s likely that it won’t be the last. Like fingerprint analysis, police are willing to trust the “science” of facial recognition analysis without regard to the fact that it is prone to human error — and wrongful convictions may result.
Don’t leave your future to chance. If you’ve been charged with drug crimes or any other serious offense, talk to an experienced defense attorney today.