Dysart Willis
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En Español : 919-747-3276
Arabic : 252-654-4852
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The Perpetual Line-Up

In 2016, researchers from Georgetown University found that at least 50 percent of all Americans had their photo entered into a facial recognition system. That system could be accessed by police or federal investigators without a warrant. The researchers called this database a "perpetual line-up" and likely expected citizens, and their representatives, to take action. Two years later, and basically nothing has been done to protect citizens from the abuse of facial recognition systems.

What could go wrong?

The potential for abuse by authorities is severe. Imagine police identifying everyone walking out of a bar or nightclub and tracking their vehicles to be stopped on suspicion of drinking and driving. What if the police instead tracked people attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings? Or Black Lives Matter events? These systems have already been used in Russia to identify people who attended anti-Putin rallies. The potential harm of facial recognition tools and databases should be clear.


Outdated legal standards

The understanding of privacy developed over previous decades is insufficient to apply to the modern world. The Third-Party Doctrine states that people have no privacy rights when it comes to information voluntarily shared with a business. There is an exception for medical records, so courts have recognized at least one area where voluntary sharing should not destroy the right to privacy. The problem comes from the wide range of data that people are virtually forced to share to participate in today's culture. 

If you have a cell phone, as the vast majority of American do, information about who you called, where you called from and how long you talked is collected as a matter of course. If authorities want that information, they do not need a warrant to get it. If you have a photo on a site like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or countless others, authorities, at present, have the right to use that image in their databases to identify you. Anything you share with these companies can be discovered without the need for a warrant.

The right to privacy that many Americans believe they have may becoming more an illusion than a reality. After all, most people would protest being called into criminal line-ups day after day. How is it different if the line-up is virtual?


Our Results

  • Client was charged in federal court with the felony offense of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. After negotiation with the US Attorney's Office, the felony gun charge was dismissed and our client...

  • Our client was charged with statutory rape and faced mandatory registration as a sex offender if convicted. We were able to work with a forensic expert and the district attorney's office to negotiate a guilty plea..

  • Client charged with Felony Assault on a Police Officer, misdemeanor assault, and resisting an officer. After a jury trial where multiple police officers testified about the incident, our client was found not guilty ..

  • Client investigated by federal law enforcement for possessing child pornography. Ryan began representing the client during the investigation and ultimately the client was not charged with any crimes...

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Super Lawyers Board Certified Specialist | North Carolina State Bar | Federal / State Criminal Law
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Raleigh, NC 27604

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Phone: 919-741-4825
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Henderson, NC 27536

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