The Washington Post
Dec. 19, 2019 at 3:43 p.m. PST
Facial-recognition systems misidentified people of color more often than white people, a landmark federal study released Thursday shows, casting new doubts on a rapidly expanding investigative technique widely used by law enforcement across the United States.
Asian and African American people were up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white men, depending on the particular algorithm and type of search. Native Americans had the highest false-positive rate of all ethnicities, according to the study, which found that systems varied widely in their accuracy.
The faces of African American women were falsely identified more often in the kinds of searches used by police investigators where an image is compared to thousands or millions of others in hopes of identifying a suspect.
Algorithms developed in the United States also showed high error rates for “one-to-one” searches of Asians, African Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. Such searches are critical to functions including cellphone sign-ons and airport boarding schemes, and errors could make it easier for impostors to gain access to those systems