You know the FBI is probably looking at you in their facial recognition software – right?

The FBI has access to nearly 412 million photos in its facial recognition system — perhaps including the one on your driver’s license. But according to a new government watchdog report, the bureau doesn’t know how error-prone the system is, or whether it enhances or hinders investigations.

Since 2011, the bureau has quietly been using this system to compare new images, such as those taken from surveillance cameras, against a large set of photos to look for a match. That set of existing images is not limited to the FBI’s own database, which includes some 30 million photos. The bureau also has access to face recognition systems used by law enforcement agencies in 16 different states, and it can tap into databases from the Department of State and the Department of Defense. And it is in negotiations with 18 other states to be able to search their databases, too.

The size of the total pool of photos the bureau can access, which was not clear until the new report from the Government Accountability Office, is shocking even to those who have been paying close attention to the FBI’s growing use of biometric data, says Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. And the degree to which the FBI has access to photos in state-owned face image databases, which contain mostly driver’s license images, has Lynch and other privacy advocates concerned…

Adding to the privacy concerns is another finding in the GAO report: that the FBI has not properly determined how often its system makes errors and has not “taken steps to determine whether face recognition systems used by external partners, such as states and federal agencies, are sufficiently accurate” to support investigations. By taking those steps, the bureau “could better ensure the data received from external partners is sufficiently accurate and do not unnecessarily include photos of innocent people as investigative leads,” the report concludes…

Our federal coppers say there is no concern. Adding in photos from a broad range of private and public sources is no different than using fingerprint info from background checks for jobs, etc.. Which is bullshit!

The point is made in the article by Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law. “I know what I touch, and I certainly know if I give fingerprints for a background check,” he says. “I don’t think there’s anyone who keeps track of every surveillance or smartphone camera.”

9 thoughts on “You know the FBI is probably looking at you in their facial recognition software – right?

  1. Update says:

    The FBI Has Quietly Collected 434,000 Iris Scans of US Citizens “…the FBI has struck information-sharing agreements with other agencies, including US Border Patrol, the Pentagon, and local law enforcement departments. California has been most aggressive about collecting scans, but agencies in Texas and Missouri can also add to and search the system. The result amounts to a new national biometric database that stretches the traditional boundaries of a pilot program, while staying just outside the reach of privacy mandates often required for such data-gathering projects.”

  2. .aspx says:

    Two Illinois residents in May sued Snapchat in California state court for allegedly capturing and storing facial recognition data without getting consent from users or disclosing how long it will be kept. The app’s “sophisticated facial recognition technology extracts and analyzes data from the points and contours of the users’ faces,” according to plaintiffs Jose Martinez and Malcolm Neal. The class-action lawsuit accusing the company of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), filed in a Los Angeles County court in May 2016, was moved to federal court in mid-July. Facebook and Google have also been sued in Illinois over their facial recognition software. That technology helps users accurately tag photos in Facebook Moments and Google Photos.

  3. ICU says:

    ‘Faceless Recognition System’ Can Identify You Even When You Hide Your Face “Hackers Trick Facial-Recognition Logins With Photos From Facebook (What Else?)” “Police officers with the ability to remember the faces of almost everyone they have ever seen are helping to crack down on crime. Meet the “super-recognisers”, whose unusual abilities are being deployed in a bid to keep the streets of London safe.”

  4. Antigonish says:

    “New anti-surveillance clothing has been developed, allowing wearers to prevent security cameras which use facial recognition technology from recognizing them. The clothing uses complex colored patterns of digitalized faces, and parts of faces, to overload and trick facial recognition software. The patterned design of the clothing overwhelm and confuse facial recognition systems by presenting them with too many faces to read simultaneously.” Example of HyperFace Camouflage @

  5. Tag says:

    “Smile, you’re on camera, and it knows who you are” “…In the US, medical technology company NextGate has developed facial recognition that can identify patients and link them to their medical records.
    In Israel, meanwhile, “facial profiling” firm Faception even claims its technology can tell if you’re a terrorist, extrovert, paedophile, genius or professional poker player by analysing 15 details of your face that are invisible to the naked eye. It then uses the information to determine your personality traits, with the firm claiming it has an 80% accuracy rate.
    And Russian app FindFace lets you match a photograph you’ve taken of someone to their social media profile on the country’s popular social media platform Vkontakte. In theory, you could track down a complete stranger you snapped on the bus or train.”

  6. 13 o'clock says:

    The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have reportedly been using driver’s license photos for facial recognition searches without license holders’ knowledge or consent. The Washington Post reports the two agencies have used millions of Americans’ photos, largely from driver’s licenses, for the purpose of facial recognition searches, citing internal documents and emails from the two agencies that were obtained by Georgetown Law researchers over the past five years and shared with the news outlet.
    The findings are particularly salient as ICE agents across the country are cracking down on undocumented immigrants under the Trump administration.
    (7/7/19 at 1:37 PM EDT): Newsweek reports that Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), claims that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is preparing to remove one million immigrants that have failed to follow deportation orders. The news comes shortly after President Donald Trump said Friday that ICE roundups will begin “fairly soon.”

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