DNAinfo.com reports that the New York Police Department is using facial recognition technology to match photos of suspects with images in online databases like Facebook and Instagram.
The new technology is the latest weapon in the NYPD’s crime-solving arsenal that already includes DNA databases, radiological detectors and sophisticated license plate readers. The new investigative entity was formally launched late last year, with eight cops working in teams of four manning the operations.
Facial recognition — which zeroes in on features and extracts size and shape of eyes, noses, cheekbones and jaws to find a match — is now revolutionizing investigations in ways not seen since fingerprint analysis was implemented generations ago.
Analysts who follow the NYPD closely fear the new investigation tactics could lead to racial profiling. "The ways that law enforcement is using technology is increasingly becoming a concern for communities of color. There’s a long, ugly history of surveillance in these communities, dating back to COINTELPRO and leading up to the NYPD’s recent and unwarranted surveillance of Muslim communities," said Colorlines.com’s news editor Jamilah King. "These new tactics are frightening precisely because racial profiling is so rampant."