Skip to content

Flawed Facial Recognition Leads To Arrest and Jail for New Jersey Man

Clearview AI is a facial recognition tool that uses billions of photos scraped from the public web, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Clearview AI’s founder, Hoan Ton-That, said officers affiliated with the state agencies where information was analyzed in the case, known as fusion centers, were not using his company’s app at that time.

According to the police report, the match in this case was to a license photo, which would reside in a government database, to which Clearview AI does not have access. The law enforcement involved in making the match — the New York State Intelligence Center, New Jersey’s Regional Operations Intelligence Center and two state investigators — did not respond to inquiries about which facial recognition system was used.

In January, after a New York Times article about Clearview AI, New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, put a moratorium on Clearview’s use by the police and announced an investigation into “this product or products like it.” A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said that New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice was still evaluating the use of facial recognition products in the state, and that the development of a policy governing their use was ongoing.

After his arrest, Mr. Parks was held for 10 days at the Middlesex County Corrections Center. New Jersey’s no-bail system uses an algorithm that evaluates the defendant’s risk rather than money to determine whether a defendant can be released before trial.

A decade ago, Mr. Parks was arrested twice and incarcerated for selling drugs. He was released in 2016. The public safety assessment score he received, which would have taken his past convictions into account, was high enough that he was not released after his first hearing. His mother and fiancée hired an attorney, who was able to get him out of jail and into a pretrial monitoring program.

His history with the criminal justice system is what made this incident so scary, he said, because this would have been his third felony, meaning he was at risk of a long sentence. When the prosecutor offered a plea deal, he almost took it even though he was innocent.

“I sat down with my family and discussed it,” Mr. Parks said. “I was afraid to go to trial. I knew I would get 10 years if I lost.”