A teenager is suing Apple for $1 billion because its facial recognition led to a wrongful arrest
An 18-year-old student from New York is suing Apple for $1 billion because he got caught up in a facial recognition scheme that eventually led to his arrest, according to Bloomberg. The student claims this was due to a hiccup in Apple’s facial recognition software used in one of its Apple Stores.
Apparently, someone (the student claims it definitely wasn’t him) stole $1,200 worth of Apple products from an Apple Store in Boston. But here’s the kicker, the suit claims the student, Ousmane Bah, was attending his senior prom somewhere in Manhattan when the theft took place. The worst part: Bah says he’s never even been to Boston.
To make things even worse, Apple is trying to pin additional thefts onto Bah’s record by accusing him of stealing from additional Apple Stores in New Jersey, Delaware, and New York City too.
Eventually, the NYPD later arrested Bah at his home in November 2018 based on the suspicion that he was stealing from the Apple Store in Manhattan
According to the suit, the NYPD’s warrant included a photo of a suspect who clearly didn’t look like Bah. The NYPD still carried out their arrest anyways.
Thankfully, an NYPD detective with a brain watched footage of the theft and realized the person in the video clearly wasn’t Bah, even going as far as saying the suspect shown in the footage looked “nothing like” him. Eventually, the detective told Bah the root of the mixup was caused by Apple’s facial recognition that’s used in their stores which “identifies suspects of theft using facial recognition technology.”
“This fact is concerning, particularly in light of the fact consumers are not generally aware of Defendant’s [Apple’s] use of facial recognition technology within its security system. Presumably, Defendant’s [Apple’s] security system scans consumers’ faces to look for matches on a list of suspects,” the suit notes.
However, in s statement provided to Engadget, Apple claims that its stores don’t use any facial recognition software for asset protection. So, there’s that.
Another cause of this mixup was probably due to the fact that the suspect could have possibly used Bah’s driver’s license, which he lost, as a form of identification. And from various reports, the stolen ID doesn’t have Bah’s picture on it. So it’s possible the real thief could have used that license in a legitimate transaction in an Apple Store, eventually linking Bah in Apple’s system.
Either way, I’m not one to judge, but it seems obvious that Bah wasn’t responsible for these crimes. If his alibi checks out, sounds like he’s in for a big payday, regardless if he wins his suit or settles the case outside of court. But again, it’s a weird situation. Who knows.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a response from an Apple spokesperson regarding the use of facial recognigation in its stores.
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