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State Photo-ID Databases Mined By Police 205

Posted by samzenpus
from the hits-keep-coming dept.
Rick Zeman writes "Showing once again that once a privacy door is opened every law enforcement agency will run through it, The Washington Post details how state drivers license photo databases are being mined by various LEOs in their states--and out. From the article: '[L]aw enforcement use of such facial searches is blurring the traditional boundaries between criminal and non-criminal databases, putting images of people never arrested in what amount to perpetual digital lineups. The most advanced systems allow police to run searches from laptop computers in their patrol cars and offer access to the FBI and other federal authorities. Such open access has caused a backlash in some of the few states where there has been a public debate. As the databases grow larger and increasingly connected across jurisdictional boundaries, critics warn that authorities are developing what amounts to a national identification system — based on the distinct geography of each human face.'"
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State Photo-ID Databases Mined By Police

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  • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Monday June 17, 2013 @03:24PM (#44032701)

    Ignoring the legal ramifications of this (for now)...

    Facial Recognition is neat, I'll give it that. BUT it's not as accurate as people think. Against a small sample set (hundreds) OR with very solid source pics (both A and B) it's decent. But between poor surveillance images and the "margin of error" settings on the software you can end up with lots of false positives.

    Add that to the huge DMV databases across the country, you're going to get a LOT of false positives. Sometimes too much data is worse than too little. Imagine showing all 30 matches of VERY VERY similar people to a witness who's already nervous enough. I know the cops already show them handfuls of similar pics: but the "similar" pics might be "chubby white-skinned guy" and not "chubby white-skinned guys that looks REALLY REALLY REALLY similar"

    All of this noise is going to cause a headache. Even just adjoining states, you're going to have close enough hits. So what, you're going to have to investigate them? If you're basing off a picture you can't just say "Well he's 30miles away so let's consider him but NOT that guy who's 40miles away"

    Sure you might say "Well we'll factor criminal background into this." But if you're basing on a criminal record, then well, why not just use the mug shots?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 17, 2013 @03:28PM (#44032749)

    That is why you can't wear glasses when you have your photo taken...

    I thought this was pretty much common knowledge...

    It use to be that if you needed glasses, they wanted you to wear your glasses for the photo so you looked how you looked normally...

    Ever since they went RealID (IE National Digital ID System) you are not allowed to wear glasses... that is for the facial recognition database..

  • Re:That reminds me (Score:5, Informative)

    by icebike (68054) on Monday June 17, 2013 @03:30PM (#44032773)

    Yes, and have the distance between you eyes adjusted, lower your nose, change the bridge of your nose, and sink your cheek bones, flatten your forehead, pin your ears back, and lower them as well, change your jaw line. Photo recognition software could care less about hair color and beards.

  • Re:That reminds me (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday June 17, 2013 @05:54PM (#44034133)

    Yes, and have the distance between you eyes adjusted, lower your nose, change the bridge of your nose, and sink your cheek bones, flatten your forehead, pin your ears back, and lower them as well, change your jaw line.

    Much of those can be fuzzed by avoiding a dead-on camera angle. My understanding is that most DMV's require you to look directly into the camera (and not smile), but you may get a camera operator who doesn't give a damn. The last time I had to get a DMV photo taken I was able to turn my head to the left and down with a big smirk. The ladies running the camera laughed their asses off at my picture, I really look goofy - and let it pass.

    Any facial recog software is going to have to work extra hard to calculate things like distance between eyes / nose / mouth / jaw from that picture. I'm sure really smart software could interpolate a 3D model of my face - but the incentive for that kind of software to be applied is minimal when the vast majority of DMV photos are dead-on and expressionless.

The trouble with being punctual is that people think you have nothing more important to do.