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IBM Used NYPD Surveillance Footage to Develop Technology that lets Police Search by Skin Color

While facial recognition technology, which measures individual faces at over 16,000 points for fine-grained comparisons with other facial images, has attracted significant legal scrutiny and media attention, this object identification software has largely evaded attention. How exactly this technology came to be developed and which particular features the software was built to catalog have never been revealed publicly by the NYPD.

Now, thanks to confidential corporate documents and interviews with many of the technologists involved in developing the software, The Intercept and the Investigative Fund have learned that IBM began developing this object identification technology using secret access to NYPD camera footage. With access to images of thousands of unknowing New Yorkers offered up by NYPD officials, as early as 2012, IBM was creating new search features that allow other police departments to search camera footage for images of people by hair color, facial hair, and skin tone.

Read more at The Intercept

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1 comment

  • Two out of the threee of those may be entirely irrelevant…hair color and facial hair…or am I missing something? A $6 box of hair dye or a $2 pack of disposable razors make those options seem pretty impractical. Skin tone might be a better indicator. But how would it translate in low light or if the perp was wearing heavy makeup or bronzer? Just curious as to wether it’s becoming advanced enough to trouble shoot potential issues like these.

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