The NYPD uses altered images in its facial recognition system, new documents show

A new report from Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology (CPT) has uncovered widespread abuse of the New York Police Department’s facial recognition system, including image alteration and the use of non-suspect images. In one case, officers uploaded a picture of the actor Woody Harrelson, based on a witness description of a suspect who looked like Harrelson. The search produced a match, and the matched suspect was later arrested for petty larceny.

“The stakes are too high in criminal investigations to rely on unreliable—or wrong—inputs,” CPT senior associate Clare Garvie writes in the report. “Unfortunately, police departments’ reliance on questionable probe photos appears all too common.”

In more complex cases, image editing...

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