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A man claims he took nine million dollars from Macy’s stores because he used facial recognition to frame him for a robbery he didn’t commit

Harvey Eugene Murphy Jr., 61, spent 10 days in jail until his alibi was confirmed, during which time he was raped and beaten, according to his complaint.

A 61-year-old man filed a lawsuit against Macy’s and Sunglass Hut for using facial recognition systems against him, accusing him of robbing their stores at gunpoint. Harvey Eugene Murphy Jr., named as the complainant, was arrested for the robbery that took place at one of these stores in the Houston area (USA) in October 2023. While in custody, Murphy was raped and beaten, according to her complaint, until an alibi proved her innocence. If confirmed, this would be a new case where facial recognition systems applied to the security of citizens caused errors that could have serious consequences.

The fateful story begins in January 2022, when two armed robbers stole thousands of dollars and products from one of Houston eyewear stores. Nearly two years later, police stopped Murphy while he was at an office in Texas to renew his driver’s license. According to the complaint made GuardianThe arrested person claims that the person who gave his name to authorities was an employee of the parent company of Sunglass Hut (EssilorLuxottica), which is in collaboration with Macy’s.

While the Houston Police Department was investigating the armed robbery, this employee used facial recognition software to identify Murphy as one of the robbers. According to the lawsuit, even though the image entered into the system came from low-quality cameras, an EssilorLuxottica representative called the police to inform them that they had already identified one of the criminals with this technology. He also accused Murphy, who was living in California at the time, of being responsible for two other robberies.

Murphy is now seeking $10 million (just over nine million euros) from Macy’s and EssilorLuxottica for the improper use of this facial recognition system that misidentified him. During her 10-day detention in the Harris County (Texas) jail, she was beaten and gang-raped, leaving her with serious physical and psychological consequences.

“The attack caused permanent injuries that he has to live with every day of his life,” the lawsuit states. “All of this happened to Murphy because the defendants relied on facial recognition technology that is known to be error-prone and flawed.”

Murphy’s case again highlights the shortcomings and dangers of using facial recognition in the sensitive area of ​​prosecuting suspected criminals, especially those known to produce false positives against black people. His lawyer, Daniel Dutko, Announced to local media He said this technology was the only plausible explanation for his false identification and arrest.

“We know that studies have shown that African Americans have a high rate of false positives based on facial recognition software. It is also known that comparing older people to photos of their youth has a false positive rate of up to 90%,” Dutko argues. Murphy had a criminal record from the 1980s and 1990s, so he mistakenly appeared in the system identifying him. This will be the first known case of a white man being falsely accused using this technology. “Mr. Murphy’s story is alarming for all citizens of this country,” Dutko said in a statement. “Anyone could be falsely accused of a crime based on error-prone facial recognition software, just like him.”

In recent years, many cases have warned of the danger of relying on these algorithms to arrest citizens, such as the cases of Robert Julian-Borchak Williams, who was arrested by Detroit police, or Porcha Woodruff, who was pregnant and not the actual thief. For this reason, the use of facial recognition for crime-fighting purposes has been one of the most controversial points in the debate on pioneering artificial intelligence legislation in the European Union.

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Source: El Pais



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