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Facial recognition technology for shoplifters raises concerns

Many retailers in Minnesota and around the country are using facial recognition software to identify and ban people who have shoplifted from their stores in the past. However, privacy rights advocates fear the technology could be easily misused.

The use of facial recognition technology is rapidly increasing, and total revenue from the industry is predicted to hit $10 billion by 2025, a two-fold jump over 2018's total. Unfortunately, state and federal regulations are failing to keep up with the industry's growth, creating the potential for abuse of the technology. For example, some retailers using facial recognition cameras are already sharing digital records with other retailers in their network. This means that people who are banned from one store for shoplifting could be banned from all stores, making it impossible for them to shop.

While some individuals may shrug off such concerns, thinking that innocent people have nothing to worry about, they could be wrong. Since there are currently no regulations over facial recognition software, businesses are free to use, or misuse, the technology as they please. They can ban people from all of their stores without proof that any crime was ever committed. They can also notify police if their cameras flag the face of a patron, whether or not that patron has done anything wrong. Of course, it is possible for the technology to make mistakes and misidentify people, causing innocent individuals to be banned.

Defendants charged with shoplifting might benefit from contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In some cases, the attorney could challenge the prosecution's evidence, while in others, an appropriate strategy could be the negotiation of a favorable plea agreement with the prosecution.

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