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Half of American Adults Are In a Face-Recognition Database (arstechnica.com) 64

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Half of American adults are in a face-recognition database, according to a Georgetown University study released Wednesday. That means there's about 117 million adults in a law enforcement facial-recognition database, the study by Georgetown's Center on Privacy and Technology says. The report (PDF), titled "The Perpetual Line-up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America," shows that one-fourth of the nation's law enforcement agencies have access to face-recognition databases, and their use by those agencies is virtually unregulated. Where do the mug shots come from? For starters, about 16 states allow the FBI to use facial recognition to compare faces of suspected criminals to their driver's licenses or ID photos, according to the study. "In this line-up," the study says, "it's not a human that points to the suspect -- it's an algorithm." The study says 26 states or more allow police agencies to "run or request searches" against their databases or driver's licenses and ID photos. This equates to "roughly one in two American adults has their photos searched this way," according to the study. Many local police agencies also insert mug shots of people they arrest into searchable, biometric databases, according to the report. According to the report, researchers obtained documents stating that at least five "major police departments," including those in Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles, "either claimed to run real-time face recognition off of street cameras, bought technology that can do so, or expressed an interest in buying it." The Georgetown report's release comes three months after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the FBI has access to as many as 411.9 million images as part of its face-recognition database. The study also mentioned that the police departments have little oversight of their databases and don't audit them for misuse: "Maryland's system, which includes the license photos of over two million residents, was launched in 2011. It has never been audited. The Pinellas Country Sheriff's Office system is almost 15 years old and may be the most frequently used system in the country. When asked if his office audits searches for misuse, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri replied, "No, not really." Despite assurances to Congress, the FBI has not audited use of its face recognition system, either. Only nine of 52 agencies (17%) indicated that they log and audit their officers' face recognition searchers for improper use. Of those, only one agency, the Michigan State Police, provided documentation showing that their audit regime was actually functional."
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Half of American Adults Are In a Face-Recognition Database

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 18, 2016 @03:55PM (#53103361)

    They track you. They track everything they can get their hands on. They abuse the information in any way they please, with no consideration for how that abuse will impact you. They profit from this abuse. They get away with it, and will continue to get away with it in the future.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Your government does not give one shit about you. They lie straight to your face. And tax your ass with glee.
      All they care about is their power over you, and growing and maintaining that power at your expense.

      https://twitter.com/wikileaks

      REVOLT NOW!!!

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's time to beef up privacy laws. In the EU we at least consider it a human right, but the US constitution is kinda weak on it. Understandable as when it was written the idea of a nation wide network of machines that can recognise and log faces was beyond science fiction.

      In any case, both need to make the protections stronger. In the EU we can get it done democratically. Pro-privacy and human rights groups in the EU have the most power, so lobby your MEPs. In the US it seems like you have a lot further to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Cops can search through driver's license photos to see if they can find suspects. Come on, how can anybody think this is bad. Either you're a match and they check you out or you're not and they keep going. Maybe the algorithm is wrong - maybe malicious - but just checking violating your snowflake-like privacy? Come on.

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      The problem is false positives. Suppose the algorithm or an overzealous cop thinks your picture looks just like the perp. You are then in for a world of hurt. You have to prove that you have an ironclad alibi and if not, you go right to the top of their list of suspects.
      Cops get points for arresting people and sending them for trial. They don't particularly care if they have the right person and they don't get penalized if they end up with the wrong person in jail. This just gives them a big list of possibl

  • The CBP has a penchant for taking photos and finger prints when you enter via airports. I wouldn't be surprised if all that data ended up in such a DB.

    • by brunes69 ( 86786 )

      Er... of course it ends up in a DB.

      What did you think they were doing, going to all the expense of taking photos and fingerprints then throwing them away at the end of the day? Why would they ever do this? The whole point of taking photos and prints at the border is to look the individual up in databases.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Thats just to count and reconcile people in and out and see if they match the applications. Some nice hardware sales to the US gov.
      The enforcement mystery is the millions of illegals who just walk or truck or car or van in and have to wait until picked up by CCTV or a random camera over the decades.
      Given the few internal interactions with photo id for work, health care, local gov they allowed to move around the US with total freedom.
      The only way to stop that would be enforced employment photo id submi
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Your face is on your driver's license with all your particular biometric data: height, age, eye color, hair color, whether you need wear glasses, etc.

    The national ID card everyone feared is here, and it's already being abused.

    • Database corruption problems are the most likely explanation.

      Probably 50% of the data is complete rubbish - due to errors during a software upgrade or two, or something similar.

  • That's the databases they tell you civilians about.

    The other ones they lie to you, and say they don't exist.

    But they do.

  • If it's the bottom half, then it won't be that useful
  • to the police state that the USA has become. Where the US constitution isn't perfect, it was far better than what you poor bastards have now.

  • And you wonder about the clown sightings across the US? Who wants to be identified by the authorities when they are simply walking to the coffee shop? Soon everyone will wear camouflage makeup. It will be a colorful world !

  • OK reading even the summary seems to refute the inflammatory title.

    It isn't quite as George Orwellian as it sounds. Half of Americans are in facial-recognition databaseS. Meaning multiple, not one central uber repository. Also how is facial-recognition defined? Does that mean the databases have the ability to scan and match, or just that that databases have photos of peoples faces? Think DMV etc...

    Now think about the technical difficulty involved in trying to query what must be hundreds of unconnected datab

  • In that hack, the Chinese got information about thousands of people (and their relatives and friends) who were applying for security clearances. All that was done was the government said "sorry" and offered some free credit monitoring for a few years. These people willingly handed over their information to the government.

    What is going to happen when the government collects all of this information on your average everyday Joe and Jane, and that gets hacked? These people absolutely did not willingly hand o
  • In Ohio, TriHealth and Group Health Associates are both "coming up with a cool new system" for hipsters and people who love to use computers instead of talk to people. Oh, wait.. They're FORCING people to use the automated systems (look like mini kiosks) instead of talking to someone just to "check in" or announce that you have arrived for an appointment.

    You can get around it, but you have to talk to a single person sitting at a desk for usually 5+ minutes just to convince them you're not going to use thi

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