The Florida state’s appellate court is deciding whether the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and local prosecutors properly handled a conviction that hinged on the identification of a suspect using an innovative police surveillance technology.
The First District Court of Appeals is due to break new legal ground in determining whether police are allowed to use facial recognition software to identify suspects without ever notifying them of the technology.
The court battle, regarded by researchers as the first of its kind in the country to consider how the surveillance tool can be used in a criminal case, is being waged over a statewide biometric database of faces run out of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office — one that extends to anyone with a Florida driver’s license despite their criminal histories, or lack thereof, the Florida Times-Union reports.
Undercover detectives from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office accessed the system through an intermediary in September 2015 to generate a lead after hitting a dead end in their search for the perpetrator of a $50 crack buy. More than two years later, state prosecutors with the Florida Attorney General’s office are making novel arguments to defend the agency’s use of the controversial technology.