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Despite Criticism, NYC's Adams To Expand Use of Facial Recognition

Civil rights groups sued over the constitutionality of police using facial recognition. State legislatures are studying its efficacy. San Francisco declared it antithetical to democracy. New York City Mayor Eric Adams is fully embracing the use of facial recognition technology by police and is exploring a dramatic expansion in how it is used, Politico reports. “If you’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — no matter what, they can see and identify who you are without violating the rights of people,” Adams said, “It’s going to be used for investigatory purposes.” Facial recognition software is used by governments across the world to assist in criminal probes and to screen people entering sensitive sites, from sports stadiums to customs checkpoints.

As other American cities have retreated from the technology or banned it altogether, Adams’ bullishness and the resources at his fingertips — the city will spend $11 billion on the NYPD this budget cycle — stand to put New York at the forefront of an evolving national debate over safety, privacy and the racial and gender biases tied to the controversial software. The NYPD has been using facial recognition technology for more than a decade, prompting at least six lawsuits and inspiring a New York statute mandating public reporting. The same software used by the city, DataWorks Plus, led to the wrongful arrest of two men in Detroit. Police officials have credited the tool with helping to solve murders, rapes and missing person cases. Now the mayor wants to go further. “We will also move forward on using the latest in technology to identify problems, follow up on leads and collect evidence — from facial recognition technology to new tools that can spot those carrying weapons, we will use every available method to keep our people safe,” says Adams, a retired police captain.

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