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Federal Law Enforcement Use of Facial Recognition Technology

CRS report via LC – Federal Law Enforcement Use of Facial Recognition Technology, October 27, 2020: “Law enforcement agencies’ use of facial recognition technology (FRT), while not a new practice, has received increased attention from policymakers and the public. Some of the concerns raised revolve around the accuracy of the technology, including potential race-, gender-, and age-related biases; the process of collecting, retaining, and securing images contained in various facial recognition databases; public notification of the use of facial recognition and other image-capturing technology; and policies or standards governing law enforcement agencies’ use of the technology. Some of these concerns have manifested in actions such as federal, state, and city efforts to prohibit or bound law enforcement agencies’ use of FRT. In addition, some companies producing facial recognition software have placed new barriers to law enforcement using their technologies. FRT is one of several biometric technologies employed by law enforcement agencies, which also include fingerprint, palm print, DNA, and iris scans. FRT can be used by law enforcement for a variety of purposes such as generating investigative leads, identifying victims of crimes, helping sort faces in photos that are part of forensic evidence, and helping verify the identity of inmates before they are released from prison. However, the frequency and extent to which FRT is used at various phases of the criminal justice system is unknown. It is most often discussed by law enforcement officials as being used to help identify suspects…”

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