Loss prevention is taken seriously at Apple stores in Missouri and around the country, but the company now faces a lawsuit seeking $1 billion in damages because of its alleged zeal in this area. The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of a New York teenager on April 22, claims that Apple’s use of facial recognition technology to track shoplifters led to false theft charges in four states. According to the teen, the real shoplifter presented Apple store security personnel with a stolen non-photo driver’s permit bearing his name that was then used to link him to a series of thefts.
Police in New York took the teen into custody in November 2018 for stealing $1,200 worth of goods from an Apple store in Massachusetts. The charges were dropped when the teen presented officers with a credible alibi, and it became apparent that he was not the man seen on security footage shoplifting the items in question. According to the teen, a detective told him about Apple’s use of facial recognition software.
The identification mix-up also led to theft charges being filed against the teen in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Delaware. The Delaware and Massachusetts charges have already been dropped. Apple denies using facial recognition software to identify thieves, but the company has yet to explain how the teen could otherwise have been implicated.
Cameras with facial recognition features have become far more popular in recent years, but the technology is not without its flaws, and misidentifications are worryingly common. When clients have been implicated by nascent technology such as sophisticated camera systems, criminal defense attorneys may ask prosecutors to drop the charges unless they are supported by more credible evidence such as eyewitness testimony or forensic analysis.
Source: Gizmodo, Teen Sues Apple for $1 Billion, Claiming Facial Recognition Led to False Arrest, Jennings Brown, April 23, 2019