Emerging technologies in use in the criminal justice system raise new concerns, says Faculty

08 Nov

THE use of new technologies in policing could infringe on the rights of individuals in the criminal justice system, says the Faculty of Advocates.

The Faculty was responding to the Call for Evidence from the Independent advisory group on emerging technologies in policing.

“The process of detecting crime and collecting evidence may often involve the use of technological means. These means are becoming more sophisticated, more efficient and more intrusive than in the past. This improving of technology and more extensive deployment thereof (for example, the extensive use of CCTV cameras and number plate recognition systems) potentially presents challenges to fundamental rights, consequently bringing a need to ensure that such deployment is proportionate and otherwise complies with the European Convention on Human Rights,” said the Faculty.

It noted that concerns raised around the use of technology were not new, but said the situation was being exacerbated as the technologies in use became more sophisticated and more widely deployed, such as artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

There are already examples of where AI can be deemed to have infringed upon the rights of individuals in the criminal justice system, said Faculty. “One such example was the use of a proprietary artificial intelligence system which purported to be able to predict the likelihood of a particular offender committing further offences if released on bail in the State of Wisconsin. The decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which approved the use of that system, has since come in for heavy and sustained criticism.”

The Faculty added that the increasing use of biometric technologies, such as facial recognition systems, also raised concerns, particularly where these were combined with AI systems that analyse biometric data. “The issues this raises become even more acute due to the real risks that the datasets used to educate the AI system will contain inherent biases.”

The use of biometrics for “affect recognition” was of particular concern. There are reports around a police force aiming to use photographs of drivers taken from roadside cameras to determine from their facial appearance whether to stop them for drunk driving and there are systems that claim to be able to predict a person's criminality. While some of these claims were bogus, given that they were presented under the guise of ‘artificial intelligence’ there was a danger that they could be viewed as being fact-based.

“Therefore, in analysing the adequacy of present legal controls and protections, there is a need to be ever mindful of the difference between conventional developing technologies and those which involve the use of AI systems,” said the Faculty.

The full response can be accessed here