(Photo via iStock)

Pittsburgh police are investigating correspondence between Clearview facial recognition and police staff

The Pittsburgh police bureau is investigating contact between police staff and Clearview AI following inquiries by PublicSource about the bureau’s involvement with the facial recognition company. 

According to a recent story from Buzzfeed News, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police made between 101 and 500 searches on Clearview between 2018 and February 2020. Using data provided by a confidential source, along with public records and interviews, Buzzfeed News compiled a list of over 1,800 publicly funded agencies across the country that used Clearview, including 63 in Pennsylvania. Cara Cruz, a spokesperson for the Pittsburgh police, confirmed to PublicSource that members of the bureau received emails from Clearview and said the bureau is still investigating the extent of correspondence between Clearview and police staff. Any correspondence between Clearview and bureau staff occurred without the approval or knowledge of police command staff, Cruz wrote in an email to PublicSource, adding that the bureau has not and does not approve of the use of private facial recognition technologies. The bureau has a policy prohibiting its use.

(Photo via iStock)

Facial recognition use spiked after the Capitol riot. Privacy advocates are leery.

The Capitol riot marks another notable moment in the ongoing facial recognition debate. 

The facial recognition app Clearview AI saw an increase in use the day after the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, the New York Times reported. As police departments throughout the United States are helping the FBI identify rioters, some are reportedly using facial recognition technology. 

The use of facial recognition last year to investigate suspected crimes related to Black Lives Matter protests raised privacy and First Amendment concerns from activists, advocates and some lawmakers. Studies show the technology, which attempts to match an uploaded image of a person to other images in a photo database, is less accurate at identifying people of color and women. Facial recognition has also resulted in at least three Black men being wrongfully arrested.

Amanda Papa, 33, of Coraopolis, was arrested during a mental health crisis in 2018. “The whole thing could’ve just been stopped, and we [would] probably pay the therapist way less than these officers, these courts, all the staff, all the records — everything." (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Resolved to change: Can Allegheny County behavioral crisis teams move fast enough to answer calls for reform?

Someone you love is having a breakdown. They could hurt themselves. Who do you call? If 911 leaps to mind, you’ll likely get a visit in a few minutes — from police, whose training includes behavioral health but is focused more on addressing criminality. If you can remember 1-888-796-8226 (or 1-888-7-YOU-CAN), you’ll get a mental health professional from resolve Crisis Services, a 13-year-old unit of UPMC hired by Allegheny County to handle behavioral incidents.