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Chicago Police Are Using a Facial Recognition Program That Scans Billions of Facebook Photos

The end of privacy as we know it?

Emma Fiala

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Chicago Police Facial Recognition Billions Photos Facebook
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(TMU) — Manhattan-based Clearview AI is collecting data from unsuspecting social media users and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is using the controversial facial recognition tool to pinpoint the identity of unknown suspects, reads a report from the Chicago Sun-Times.

And according to a bombshell New York Times report, it is also being used by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

The software’s creator, Hoan Ton-That, maintains that it is purely “an after-the-fact research tool for law enforcement, not a surveillance system or a consumer application.” However, privacy advocates are saying this technology is so intrusive and ripe for abuse its use should be immediately halted. And earlier this month, a lawsuit was filed in federal court seeking to do just that.

Chicago attorney Scott Drury who filed the lawsuit describes CPD’s signing of a two-year, $49,875 contract with Illinois tech firm CDW Government to use Clearview AI’s software as “frightening.”

Conversely, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi explains:

Our obligation is to find those individuals that hurt other people and bring them to justice. And we want to be able to use every tool available to be able to perform that function, but we want to be able to do so responsibly.”

According to police, some CPD officials at the Crime Prevention and Information Center used the software for two months on a trial basis prior to the signing of the contract in January.

Despite the two month trial and the contract having been signed for approximately one month, CPD spokesman Howard Ludwig has declined to explain if and when Clearview AI has been used by the department thus far. Ludgwig explained:

“Any information about ongoing investigations can only come from cases that have been thoroughly adjudicated. We haven’t had Clearview long enough for any of the cases to have gone through the courts.”

Clearview AI’s database includes three billion photos taken from social media and network platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. The software searches its massive database for matches after users, including CPD, upload a photo of a suspect. The user is then provided with links for each image returned in the search that the company once told Green Bay police to “run wild” with in a marketing email.

Ton-That told the Sun-Times, “Our software links to publicly available web pages, not any private data.” It is clear he doesn’t seem to think the software poses any problems. But just this month, New Jersey’s attorney general Gurbir Grewal put a moratorium on Clearview AI’s chilling, unregulated facial recognition software.”

The ACLU of New Jersey responded to the move in a tweet last Friday:

“Technology like this opens a Pandora’s Box for constant warrantless searches, pretty much of anyone with a photo and name online.

It’s a tool that could make an already-unequal criminal justice system truly dystopian.

New Jersey is right to slam this Pandora’s Box shut.”

The ACLU also rightfully pointed out that tendency of facial recognition technology to have a bias against “people of color, women, and non-binary people.” In fact, as TMU has previously reported, self-driving cars are less likely to detect black people and artificial intelligence (AI) is sending the wrong people to jail.

Critics of Clearview AI and facial recognition software extend far beyond those involved in the lawsuit mentioned above and the ACLU of New Jersey. In what is the one of the biggest efforts to date in the battle against the use of facial recognition technologies, 40 organizations signed a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board calling for the banning of the U.S. government’s use of such technology “pending further review.” The letter notes that this technology could be exploited and used to “control minority populations and limit dissent.”

However, as Fast Company points out, not everyone feels the same. In fact, some view actions like the letter mentioned above “an overreaction.”

Jon Gacek, head of government, legal, and compliance for Veritone—a company that provides technology like Clearview AI for law enforcement in both Europe and the U.S.—says all the software does is use “technology to do what police already do, except far faster and at less cost.”

Twitter responded to the bombshell NYT report by sending a letter to Clearview AI last week. In a follow-up report, the NYT explained:

“Twitter sent a letter this week to the small start-up company, Clearview AI, demanding that it stop taking photos and any other data from the social media website “for any reason” and delete any data that it previously collected, a Twitter spokeswoman said. The cease-and-desist letter, sent on Tuesday, accused Clearview of violating Twitter’s policies.”

While those concerned with privacy are typically focused on their photos and data being used by social media companies for profit, the situation with Clearview AI is an excellent reminder that what we post online generally can and will be used in ways we do not consent to despite our best efforts to keep up with Terms of Service updates and checking as many “opt-out” boxes as possible.

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Corruption

Cop Who ‘Accidentally’ Killed Daunte Wright Arrested on 2nd-Degree Manslaughter Charges

Elias Marat

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The former Minnesota cop who shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop will now face charges of second-degree manslaughter, a prosecutor announced on Wednesday.

The brutal killing of Wright, which comes amid the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for last May’s killing of George Floyd, threatens to spark a new round of nationwide protests against police brutality and discriminatory policing.

On Wednesday, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput confirmed that Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, would be charged.

On Wednesday morning, agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Potter, the bureau announced in a statement.

Potter was taken into custody in St. Paul and will be booked at Hennepin County jail.

On Tuesday, Potter resigned as demands for justice for Wright reverberated nationwide. Her resignation coincided with that of the city’s former police chief, who claims that Potter accidentally grabbed her Glock when she thought she was reaching for her Taser during the Sunday traffic stop.

Wright’s family and attorneys have rejected the claim that Wright’s death was merely the result of an “accident” and are demanding accountability and sweeping reforms of policing in Minnesota.

Potter could face up to 10 years in prison along with a $20,000 fine, per Minnesota law.

“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back,” said Wright family attorney Ben Crump in a statement.

“This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate and unlawful use of force,” the statement added.

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Corruption

Trump “Pretty Likely” to Land in Jail For Many Alleged Crimes, Legal Analyst Says

Elias Marat

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Legal experts continue to say that it remains likely that former President Donald Trump could land in jail if convicted on one of the many legal challenges he faces.

Throughout his life, Trump has been involved in a number of lawsuits – both as the subject and instigator of them – but he is currently facing no less than 29 lawsuits and is also the subject of several criminal lawsuits, including one which saw his tax returns opened up to lawyers.

Trump is being investigated for potential bank, tax and insurance fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for what Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office calls “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” reports the New York Times.

The former head of state denies any malfeasance and has said that he is “proud” of his tax returns.

However, legal analyst Jay Michaelson told Daily Beast’s The New Abnormal that Trump is “pretty likely” to face jail time if found guilty.

“Trump’s lawyers will always come up with something, but there should be no reason why the grand jury won’t get these financial records tomorrow,” Michaelson said.

“Will he go to jail for, like, the rest of his life? Probably no,” he continued. “Is it possible that this would lead to criminal charges that would carry jail time? I would say that’s pretty likely, and we could have a grand jury indictment fairly soon.”

Last month, the Supreme Court rejected the Trump legal team’s appeal to keep his tax returns closed from prosecutors. The move opens the door to the returns being shown to a grand jury in New York.

Following the ruling, Trump denounced the move as a result of him being a victim of “’the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country.”

“In the meantime, murders and violent crime are up in New York City by record numbers, and nothing is done about it,” he added. “Our elected officials don’t care. All they focus on is the persecution of President Donald J. Trump.”

“I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me. We will win!”

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Corruption

Minneapolis Police Lieutenant Calls Chauvin’s Use of Force On George Floyd “Totally Unnecessary”

Elias Marat

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The head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide division flatly denounced former officer Derek Chauvin’s use of force against George Floyd as “totally unnecessary.”

Lt. Richard Zimmerman testified on Friday about his over three decades of police training and the lethal dangers of the techniques used on Floyd on May 25, 2020.

Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, is currently facing trial for his role in the killing of Floyd, 46, a Black man, by pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes as he lay handcuffed on the ground.

“Once you handcuff a person you need to get them out of the prone position as quickly as possible, because it restricts their breathing,” Zimmerman said, adding that being handcuffed “stretches the muscles back through your chest and it makes it more difficult to breathe.”

“That would be the top tier, the deadly force,” he said, noting that escalating to such a degree goes against use-of-force training at MPD. “Because if your knee is on someone’s neck, that can kill them.”

When asked if such force was necessary, Zimmerman responded that it was “totally unnecessary” given that any potential threat from Floyd had been subdued.

“First of all, pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for,” Zimmerman said. “I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt. And that’s what they would have to feel to use that type of force.”

Continuing, Zimmerman noted that handcuffing a person quickly alters the permissible use of force that can be used in a situation.

“Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way to, they’re cuffed, how can they really hurt you?” he said. “That person is handcuffed, and the threat level is just not there.”

At that stage, the use of force quickly declines, he added.

“If they become less combative, you may just have them sit down on the curb,” Zimmerman said. “The idea is to calm the person down and if they are not a threat to you at that point, you try to, you know, to help them so that they’re not as upset as they may have been in the beginning.”

Derek Chauvin has faced at least eighteen complaints during his 19-year career with the Minneapolis police, including six times in which prosecutors claim the former officer used force against arrestees.

However, these incidents – like George Floyd’s own criminal record – won’t be introduced to jurors in the Chauvin trial so that the defendant isn’t punished for prior misconduct, and is instead evaluated on the charges he faces for the death of Floyd: third- and second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

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