Since its debut, facial recognition technology has been linked to several strange incidents. The latest one related to Apple’s facial recognition software seems to be the strangest of all, and it could even cost Apple $1 billion. A New York student has sued the company, claiming its facial recognition software falsely led to his arrest.
How Apple’s facial recognition recognized Bah
Ousmane Bah, 18, claims Apple’s facial recognition technology falsely linked him to a series of thefts from Apple Stores, resulting in his arrest. Bah said he was charged with stealing from Apple Stores and was arrested at his home in New York in November.
Further, Bah said the arrest warrant had a photo that wasn’t him. According to Bah, he once lost a non-photo learner’s permit, which could have been used by the real thief. Perhaps because of this, his name was connected to the thief’s face in Apple’s in-store facial-recognition system.
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He did not report the loss of his permit to police because the permit indicated that it must not be used for identification. Bah also knew he would be getting his actual license soon. According to the complaint, which was seen by Bloomberg and the New York Post, Apple’s in-store facial-recognition system accepted Bah’s name, address, date of birth, sex, height and eye color, but not his photo.
“He was forced to respond to multiple false allegations which led to severe stress and hardship,” the lawsuit said.
Bah’s lawsuit also lists Apple’s security firm, Security Industry Specialists, as another defendant.
How Bah cleared his name
One of the thefts he was charged with took place in Boston in June. However, Bah claims that at the time, he was attending his senior prom in Manhattan and that he has never been to Boston.
According to Bah, he received a summons from Boston Municipal Court accusing him of larceny of over $1,200 in another theft which took place on May 31, 2018 at Apple’s store in Boston’s Back Bay. Bah was charged with stealing multiple Apple Pencils retailing for $99 each.
At the time, a loss prevention associate employed by Security Industry Specialists reportedly claimed that he saw Bah steal the Pencils on the security video. Further, he reportedly told police that he recognized Bah because he (Bah) had been previously arrested for stealing from another Apple store. However, when Bah’s attorney asked for the video, the defendant said it no longer existed, according to the Insurance Journal.
Bah’s attorney was able to explain what happened to the district attorney in Boston using information provided by New York police. The district attorney also obtained surveillance footage of the crime, which was earlier claimed to be missing.
On the basis of the footage, the Boston DA dismissed the case, concluding that Bah didn’t commit any crimes. All the charges against him have been dismissed, except for a case that’s still pending in New Jersey.
What the lawsuit says
Bah claims these false theft allegations adversely affected his education and reputation and caused him stress. In the lawsuit, he accuses Apple of slander, libel, fraudulent concealment, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.
“Until the present, any examination of Face ID has presupposed that the iPhone user is not being deceptive about his identity. However, when a name is mismatched to a particular face, the security benefits of the Face ID software become a criminal’s weapon,” the lawsuit said.
Further, the complaint alleges that Apple relies so heavily on its facial recognition technology that it overlooked the possibility of any human error in the identification procedure. The complaint also alleges that the Face ID software didn’t raise any red flag despite a discrepancy between the height on Bah’s learner’s permit and the suspect’s height. Additionally, the complaint claims the charges filed against Bah and his arrest were “completely preventable” by Apple.
“All of these events were caused by Defendant’s negligent acceptance of an interim permit, which did not contain a photo, did not properly describe the suspect presenting it, and clearly stated that it could not be used for identification purposes, as a valid form of identification,” the complaint said.
There is a good chance that Apple will try to settle Bah’s $1 billion lawsuit out of court. As of now, there is no comment from Apple on the development.
Apple’s facial recognition technology, Face ID replaced Touch ID, which uses a user’s fingerprint to open the iPhone and apps within the iPhone and make payments via Apple Pay.