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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Law enforcement's use of facial recognition faces a new wave of scrutiny because of a wrongful arrest lawsuit by Nijeer Parks, a 33-year-old Black man in New Jersey.

Why it matters: While advocates of the tech say it's a valuable tool in solving crime, facial recognition programs repeatedly show they are less accurate on people of color.

Parks spent more than a week in jail on charges of shoplifting, drug possession and assault. His case was dismissed in November 2o19.

  • Authorities used a driver's license shown during the crime to pull a photo of the perpetrator. They say the photo was a "high profile" match to Parks.
  • It's unclear which specific software was used in Parks' case

The big picture: Some jurisdictions, including Portland and San Francisco, have banned the use of facial-recognition technology in law enforcement, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • Other companies that produce the tools have pulled back their distributions or halted police use until racial biases can be addressed.

The bottom line: Parks "is the third person known to be falsely arrested based on a bad facial recognition match," the N.Y. Times notes.

  • "In all three cases, the people mistakenly identified by the technology have been Black men."

Go deeper

Fed chair says low interest rates aren't driving stock market prices

Jerome Powell. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / Getty Images

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told reporters on Wednesday that rock-bottom interest rates aren't playing a role in driving stock prices higher, while noting that vulnerabilities to the financial system are "moderate."

Why it matters: The statement comes amid unshakeable stock prices and a Reddit-fueled market frenzy — prompting widespread fears of a bubble and the role monetary policy has played in that.

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).