An innocent Black man may have become the first American wrongfully arrested due to a flawed match from a facial-recognition algorithm that draws on state driver’s license photo databases, NPR reports. Back in January, the Detroit Police Department called Robert Julian-Borchak Williams and instructed him to come to their station to be arrested. Williams thought it was a prank, but, when he returned home, two officers were waiting to handcuff him in front of his wife and young daughters. He was taken to a detention center, had his mug shot, fingerprints and DNA taken, and was held overnight. When he was interrogated the next day, cops showed him a still image from a surveillance video of a man carrying out a shoplifting. “Is this you?” asked the detective. “No, this is not me,” Williams replied. “You think all Black men look alike?” Williams said the detectives held the still up to his face and one said to his partner: “I guess the computer got it wrong.” Williams admitted he remains scarred by the incident, saying: “My mother doesn’t know about it. It’s not something I’m proud of... It’s humiliating.” Civil-rights and privacy advocates say it is the first known case of an American wrongfully arrested because of a mistaken “hit” detected by the controversial facial-ID systems.
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