NY Man Sues, Claiming Apple’s Facial Recognition Software Led to His False Arrest

May 20, 2019

An alleged Apple’s facial recognition software failure may cost the tech giant a pretty penny.

An 18-year-old New York man is suing Apple for $1 billion, claim its facial recognition software wrongly accused him of stealing $1,200 worth of merchandise from its stores.

Ousmane Bah, a student, claims someone used a stolen identification card to pass himself off as him. The person was busted stealing Apple products from one of its stores in Boston, according to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court.

The identification the person was carrying only listed his name, address, and other personal details, but no photo.

Bah believes Apple took the person arrested at his word, as well as other personal, and then, programmed its security systems to recognize the man’s face as his. Then, the thief took merchandise from Apple stores in Manhattan, Delaware, and New Jersey, but pointed a finger at Bah as the culprit, according to court filings.

Bah only learned about the identity theft and charges after receiving a Boston municipal court summons in the mail in June, according to the lawsuit.

Though New York police arrested Bah on Nov. 29, a detective for the department concluded that he did not commit the theft after reviewing surveillance footage. The footage showed that the man who committed the crime looked nothing like Bah, according to the lawsuit.

Every state except New Jersey, which still has a case pending, has dropped charges against Bah.

In the lawsuit, Bah claims that Apple’s use of facial recognition software in its stores, which aims to monitor people who have tried to steal from the store, is “Orwellian” in nature. It claims that this type of surveillance is consumers’ worst enemies because most have no idea that their faces are covertly being analyzed, according to court records.

What This Case May Mean for the Use of Biometrics

The outcome of this lawsuit could have major ramifications in all types of industries. Many companies, including those in the payments and money transfer sectors, are quickly adopting biometrics as security measures. This is occurring at a rapid pace to catch up with the volumes of individuals using mobile devices for shopping and banking services.

Considered one of the safest, newest ways to authorize transactions and protect against thefts, companies are embracing facial recognition and other forms of biometrics.

Biometrics are unique to individuals and people cannot forget or guess them, like they can passwords and CVV codes. Most importantly, individuals’ identities are verified with a greater levels of accuracy.

However, no tool is perfect. If the court find that this is the case here, companies may want to institute best practices or other regulations that can help better police biometrics.

Many institutions have found that two-step authentication, which includes a biometric security measure and a password or unique question, is the best approach for security.

In Conclusion

This alleged false arrest and lawsuit proves that no system is perfect. However, it also gives companies a chance to explore other ways to protect their inventory and their customers.

As the details unfold, merchants should use this situation as a learning experience. Finding technical flaws and human errors and correcting them can be positives for all parties involved.

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