Turn to Tara: Facial recognition software could give your selfie to law enforcement

Team 12 Investigative reporter Tara Rosenblum explains how an innocent profile picture on a social media account can become part of a police database.

Tara Rosenblum

May 4, 2023, 11:21 AM

Updated 353 days ago

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New facial recognition software is apparently scraping the internet for your selfies and feeding them to law enforcement.
Team 12 Investigative reporter Tara Rosenblum explains how an innocent profile picture on a social media account can become part of a police database.
Cyber security expert Mark Ostrowski says it's the perfect marriage between facial recognition and police surveillance. He says companies like Clearview AI spend time mining social sites for selfies and profile shots that are marked public. The data is then scraped and fed into recognition software and ultimately sold to police agencies nationwide.
"So, you have to kind of by default, think about that these companies are canvassing this information and creating these profiles creating these likenesses and then perhaps, you know, selling them, or again, in this particular case, could be using it against you," says Ostrowski.
According to an online database published by Buzzfeed, more than 1,800 law enforcement agencies including the NYPD have used or tested the controversial policing tool in recent years. This has prompted safety advocates in several states to demand stricter regulation of an industry that is projected to be worth roughly $7 billion by 2024.
Ostrowski advises people to regularly check on privacy settings.


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