The debate over whether AI is a friend or foe is ongoing.
A Texas man named Harvey Murphy Jr. is suing both Macy’s and Luxottica Group (the parent company of retailer Sunglass Hut) after Macy’s facial recognition software mistook him for a man who committed armed robbery, landing him in jail for almost two weeks.
Murphy is seeking $10 million for the incorrect arrest. Prosecutors were able to verify that Murphy, 61, was not in the state when the robbery occurred at a Sunglass Hut in Houston in January 2022.
The robbery was committed by two armed men who threatened employees at gunpoint before stealing money and multiple pairs of glasses.
It’s unclear why Sunglass Hut sought out Macy’s technology specifically, but video surveillance of the robbery was brought to the department store where the facial recognition software was implemented.
After the facial recognition was brought to local police, a Sunglass Hut employee who was present during the robbery was asked to identify the suspect out of a lineup of photos and chose Murphy.
Murphy was later arrested at the Department of Motor Vehicles in October 2023, even though he had been in Sacramento at the time of the crime. When his alibi checked out, he was released.
“After reviewing the documents, it appears to us that the police were trying to do their job,” Murphy’s lawyer, Daniel Dutko, told CNN. “They were misled by Sunglass Hut and Macy’s and the reason why Murphy was jailed is because of the actions of these companies. We may find information that causes us to add them later, but right now we feel like we have properly named the true bad actors.”
Macy’s did not comment on the “pending litigation.”
The Houston Police Department is not named in the suit.
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