The New York Police Department used facial recognition software to track down a Black Lives Matter activist who was accused of the attack after allegedly yelling in the ear of a police officer with a megaphone. The mayor's office says it will "re-evaluate" standards for facial recognition use after criticizing the case for showing the technology being used indiscriminately.
On August 7, police dispatched dozens of officers, including some in riot gear, to 28-year-old activist Derrick Ingram's home. An altercation followed, which Ingram had streamed live on Instagram, in which he repeatedly asked officials to produce a search warrant. They refused to do this. After protesters who supported Ingram flocked to the streets, the NYPD resigned and Ingram went to police the next day.
Dozens of police officers were dispatched to arrest Ingram earlier this month
The NYPD has been criticized for the disproportionate violence in persecuting Ingram and now for using facial recognition software to track him down. FreedomNewsTV's video of the August 7 stalemate showed officials outside Ingram's home examining a document titled "Facial Identification Department Information Report," which contains a photo of Ingram that appears to have been taken from his Instagram.
The NYPD confirmed to Gothamist that they used facial recognition during the investigation. "The NYPD is using facial recognition as a limited investigative tool to match a still from a surveillance video to a pool of lawfully-possessed arrest photos," a spokesman said. However, it is unclear if the photo of Ingram from social media was part of that search. If so, it would be a violation of NYPD guidelines as it is neither a still from a surveillance video nor an arrest photo.
The video from the clash on August 7th shows the police with a facial recognition report.
In response to the report, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told Gothamist that his office would review standards for police use of facial recognition. "We have to be very careful and very limited with everything that has to do with face recognition," said de Blasio. “These standards need to be reassessed. I'll do that with my team and with the NYPD. "
The NYPD has been using facial recognition software to identify suspects since 2011. Official statistics say the department processed 9,850 requests with the software in 2019, resulting in 2,510 "possible matches". However, official numbers can be misleading. A February BuzzFeed report found that the NYPD conducted more than 11,000 facial recognition searches using technology from controversial Clearview AI, despite not having an official contract with the company.
Mayor de Blasio said this week that the NYPD is "frugal" in its use of facial recognition and never uses the technology to "undermine or influence public speech or protest." In Ingram's case, the activist is accused of shouting a megaphone into an official's ear during a protest in June, causing "pain and prolonged hearing loss," according to the NYPD.
Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman, who proposed laws banning the NYPD's use of facial recognition, said the case was "further evidence that permission (police) to set their own policy outcomes is not meaningful." Representing protection for New Yorkers ".
Ingram himself told Gothamist that activists "are specifically targeted at this technology because we are protesting and because we are trying to deconstruct a system of which they belong". He added, "It is a waste of taxpayers' money and dollars that could be reallocated to the people of this city."