Add news
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010June 2010July 2010
August 2010
September 2010October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013February 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013June 2013July 2013August 2013September 2013October 2013November 2013December 2013January 2014February 2014March 2014April 2014May 2014June 2014July 2014August 2014September 2014October 2014November 2014December 2014January 2015February 2015March 2015April 2015May 2015June 2015July 2015August 2015September 2015October 2015November 2015December 2015January 2016February 2016March 2016April 2016May 2016June 2016July 2016August 2016September 2016October 2016November 2016December 2016January 2017February 2017March 2017April 2017May 2017June 2017July 2017August 2017September 2017October 2017November 2017December 2017January 2018February 2018March 2018April 2018May 2018June 2018July 2018August 2018September 2018October 2018November 2018December 2018January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019October 2019November 2019December 2019January 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020May 2020June 2020July 2020August 2020September 2020October 2020November 2020December 2020January 2021February 2021March 2021April 2021May 2021June 2021July 2021August 2021September 2021October 2021November 2021December 2021January 2022February 2022March 2022April 2022May 2022June 2022July 2022August 2022September 2022October 2022
News Every Day |

No, The Solution For Criminal Defendants Is Not More Clearview AI

The problems with Clearview AI’s facial recognition system, particularly in the hands of police, are myriad and serious. That the technology exists as it does at all raises significant ethical concerns, and how it has been used to feed people into the criminal justice system raises significant due process ones as well. But an article in the New York Times the other day might seem to suggest that it perhaps also has a cuddly side, one that might actually help criminal defendants, instead of just hurting them.

But don’t be fooled – there is nothing benign about the facial recognition technology pushed by Clearview AI, and even this story ultimately provides no defense for it. It was not the hero here, because the problem it supposedly “solved” was not the problem that actually needed solving.

In the article, Kashmir Hill told the story of how Clearview AI’s facial recognition system apparently helped exonerate someone criminally charged with causing the single-car accident he had been in, which had killed the person he was with. The survivor defendant insisted he hadn’t been the one driving, but he was charged anyway. Proving his innocence was going to require finding the Good Samaritan witness who had pulled him from the burning car and could verify which seat he had been pulled from.

In November 2019, almost three years after the car accident, Mr. Conlyn was charged with vehicular homicide. Prosecutors said that Mr. Conlyn had been the one recklessly driving Mr. Hassut’s Mustang that night and that he was responsible for his friend’s death.

Mr. Conlyn vehemently denied this, but his version of events was hard to corroborate without the man who had pulled him from the passenger seat of the burning car. The police had talked to the good Samaritan that night, and recorded the conversation on their body cameras.

“The driver got ejected out of one of the windows. He’s in the bushes,” said the man, who had tattoos on his left arm and wore an orange tank top with “Event Security” emblazoned on it. “I just pulled out the passenger. He’s over there. His name is Andrew.”

The police did not ask for the man’s name or contact information. The good Samaritan and his girlfriend, who was with him that night, drove off in a black pickup truck.

Yet how could the defendant track down the witness? He had no idea himself who had helped him, and the police had not bothered to fully document what they observed at the scene. The only identifying data was the footage the police bodycams captured while they had been talking to the witness. Which led the defense to wonder, what if there was some sort of way to identify who was pictured in the footage. So defense counsel wrote to Clearview AI and asked for access to its facial recognition system to see if it could identify the person in the picture. And Clearview said yes, apparently smelling a PR opportunity by asking that that the defense “talk to the news media about it if the search worked.” And it turns out that it did work: the identity of the witness was readily found, the witness then located, and, with their testimony, the charges were consequently dropped.

The company would like the takeaway from this particular happy ending to be that Clearview AI’s facial recognition system might at least be a double-edge sword, offering some good and important benefits to the accused that might somehow counterbalance the tremendous threat it poses to all putative defendants (aka everyone), especially insofar how facial recognition technology in the hands of police tends to lead to people finding themselves in the crosshairs of the criminal justice system in the first place, often unaware and even by mistake.

Civil liberty advocates believe Clearview’s expansive database of photos violates privacy, because the images, though public on the web, were collected without people’s consent. The tool can unearth photos that people did not post themselves and may not even realize are online. Critics say it puts millions of law-abiding people in a perpetual lineup for law enforcement, which is particularly concerning given broader concerns about the accuracy of automated facial recognition.

But the story actually supports no such conclusion: Clearview AI was no way the solution to the problem presented here, because the problem here was not that the defense couldn’t find its witness. The problem was that there was obviously reasonable doubt as to his guilt, which prosecutors chose to ignore in deciding to charge him anyway. Which then meant that instead of the prosecution having the burden to prove his guilt, the defendant now had the burden to prove his innocence, which is how he found himself needing Clearview at all.

But he never should have had that need because that is not how things are supposed to work in our criminal justice system, where the accused are supposed to be presumed innocent and it is the prosecution’s job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are not. True, to simply bring charges the prosecution may have needed to meet a lesser standard than reasonable doubt, but the problem here was that the prosecution gladly chose to pick this fight even though it knew that it should ultimately not be able to win the war.

Because think about how much evidence the prosecution already knew about that cast doubt on the suspicion the defendant had been driving. As the article lists, there was the defendant’s own denial, plus forensic evidence that was at best inconclusive to support that he had been the driver (and then there was also the fact that the passenger side door had been blocked by a tree, which would have meant that anyone in the car would need to leave by the driver’s side, even if they hadn’t been driving).

The body-camera footage did not seem to hold much weight with the prosecution.

“There was contradicting evidence,” said Samantha Syoen, the communications director for the state attorney’s office.

Witnesses who had arrived late to the scene saw Mr. Conlyn pulled out of the driver’s side of the car. Mr. Conlyn said, and police body camera footage appeared to confirm, that the passenger’s side door had been against a tree, which was why he’d had to be rescued from the other side. The police found his blood on the passenger’s side of the car but also on the driver’s side airbag.

An accident reconstruction expert hired by the prosecution said the injuries to the right side of Mr. Conlyn’s body could have come from the center console, not the passenger door. After Mr. Hassut’s father sued Mr. Conlyn in civil court in 2019, for the wrongful death of his son, Mr. Conlyn’s insurance agency settled the suit, unable to prove that Mr. Conlyn had not been driving the car.

But even if none of that contrary evidence had been compelling, THERE WAS ALSO A WITNESS! That the prosecution knew about! Because the police had spoken to him! AND THAT’S WHY THERE WAS EVEN A PICTURE TAKEN ON THE BODY CAM!

There should have been no need for the defense to ID the witness, because the mere fact that there was a witness, whose contemporaneous statement had cast doubt on the prosecution’s theory, should have been enough reasonable doubt to put an end to the prosecution. That the prosecution nevertheless continued, in spite of this contrary evidence, is the true problem that this story reveals. And it is the problem that Clearview AI in no way solves. The failure here is much more systemic, that overzealous prosecutors can go after defendants with such weak hands, and force defendants to have to do what may be impossible to prove their innocence (especially thanks to inexcusably poor documentation practices by investigating police).

That something like Clearview AI may make a defendant’s task slightly less impossible does not solve the ultimate problem, nor does it redeem technology as troubling as Clearview AI just because in this particular case it may have helped even the odds.  The issue is that the odds were ever so uneven in the first place. And Clearview AI ultimately just helps make sure they will stay uneven by so cavalierly dismissing the significant privacy rights that should be protecting citizens from exactly this sort of overzealous policing.

The article quotes the NACDL’s Jumana Musa accurately noting that offering defense counsel access to Clearview isn’t going to solve the problems with it:

Jumana Musa is the director of the Fourth Amendment Center at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, where she works to keep defense lawyers informed about the newest surveillance tools used by law enforcement.

“[Giving defendants access to the system] is not going to wipe away the ethical concerns about the way in which they went about building this tool. [I]t’s not going to do is make us feel comfortable with the secrecy around how this tool works.”

As she continued, “You don’t address issues in a broken criminal legal system by layering technology on them.”  Which is exactly the issue.  Technology is not the solution to all our failings. Sometimes the thing we need to do is just fail less, but that requires recognizing what has actually gone wrong and what therefore needs addressing.

So, no, Clearview AI is not the solution here because the problem is not that not enough people don’t have access to facial recognition systems. Rather, the problem is that our system of justice railroads people even in the face of reasonable doubt. That it does is the problem we should be fixing, but it is not one that something so invasive like Clearview AI could ever do for us because it is not like its own existential problems can somehow cure or cancel out the current constitutional infirmities of our criminal justice system. Instead each will only make the other worse.

Read also

Seems Like Horizon Zero Dawn Is Getting A Remaster And A Multiplayer Game

Grand jury brings no charges in fatal NJ police shooting

Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley inactive vs. Bills; OLB Jason Pierre-Paul to make season debut

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on

News Every Day

Tracking a Coyote after Chicken Coop Attack! — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here

News Every Day

German-style soft pretzels no lye

Sports today

Новости тенниса
Марко Чеккинато

Марко Чеккинато стал победителем "Челленджера" в Португалии

Спорт в России и мире

Мособлсуд рассмотрит жалобу на приговор Грайнер по делу о контрабанде наркотиков


All sports news today


Sports in Russia today


Полуфиналисты Чемпионата России и Первенства России (16-17 лет)

Новости России

Game News

Hyenas could have real potential if it wasn't knee-deep in metacringe

Губернаторы России

Промес признан лучшим игроком матча «Пари НН» — «Спартак»

Самарский выпускник стал лицом профориентационного проекта «Билет в будущее»

Татьяна Шеулина: «Традиционная одежда подчеркивает красоту женщины»

В Москве задержали первокурсника, угрожавшего «устроить резню» в вузе

Стало известно, почему Меньшов взял супругу на главную роль в «Москва слезам не верит»

Депутат Драпеко предложила Тимати отправиться на фронт добровольцем

Шокирующие мини и детские хвостики: стилист разобрала гардероб Нетребко

Вновь покинувшая Россию Пугачева была готова баллотироваться в президенты

Медики диагностировали диабет у беременной певицы Келли Осборн

Джокович и Сафиуллин поспорят за выход в финал турнира ATP в Тель-Авиве

Стефанос Циципас четвёртым квалифицировался на Итоговый турнир ATP

Медведев встретится с Рамос-Виньоласом в первом круге турнира ATP в Астане

Даниил Медведев поделился ожиданиями от турнира в Астане

Уход за пожилыми людьми с болезнью Паркинсона в доме престарелых

«Зарядят дожди»: жителей Москвы ожидает пасмурная погода в первую неделю октября

Корпоратив Мезонпроект прошел на выезде в городе Нижний Новгород.

«В 11 лет мне привили этот комплекс»: Лиза Лпшка сделала ринопластику

В Москве прошел международный Форум онкологии и радиотерапии "For Life"

Ростовская область: поддержим инициативу кашарских волонтеров!

Игорь Маковский: безусловное исполнение Указа Президента РФ - наша гражданская и профессиональная обязанность

Специалисты рассказали об огнетушителе

Прокурор ЦАО г. Москвы разъясняет: к энергетическим компаниям перешла ответственность за приборы учета электроэнергии

В РПЛ не осталось места трусости. Как середняки меняют наш футбол

Борис Моисеев (1954-2022) - звезда без футляра?..

Американцы назвали «трюк» Трампа унижением Байдена

Путин в России и мире

Персональные новости

Семён Слепаков

Директор Семена Слепакова поблагодарила "за хайп" после слухов об эмиграции комика в Израиль

News Every Day

Ancient Ruins of Tyre, Lebanon [Amazing Places 4K]

Friends of Today24

Музыкальные новости

Персональные новости