New Report: FBI Can Access Hundreds of Millions of Face Recognition Photos

Totaling 411.9 million images, this is an unprecedented number of photographs

New Report: FBI Can Access Hundreds of Millions of Face Recognition Photos

Jennifer Lynch | EFF.org


Today the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) finally published its exhaustive report on the FBI’s face recognition capabilities. The takeaway: FBI has access to hundreds of millions more photos than we ever thought. And the Bureau has been hiding this fact from the public—in flagrant violation of federal law and agency policy—for years.

According to the GAO Report, FBI’s Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation (FACE) Services unit not only has access to FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) face recognition database of nearly 30 million civil and criminal mug shot photos, it also has access to the State Department’s Visa and Passport databases, the Defense Department’s biometric database, and the drivers license databases of at least 16 states. Totaling 411.9 million images, this is an unprecedented number of photographs, most of which are of Americans and foreigners who have committed no crimes.

The FBI has done little to make sure that its search results (which the Bureau calls “investigative leads”) do not include photos of innocent people, according to the report. The FBI has conducted only very limited testing to ensure the accuracy of NGI’s face recognition capabilities. And it has not taken any steps to determine whether the face recognition systems of its external partners—states and other federal agencies—are sufficiently accurate to prevent innocent people from being identified as criminal suspects. As we know from previous research, face recognition is notoriously inaccurate across the board and may also misidentify African Americans and ethnic minorities, young people, and women at higher rates than whites, older people, and men, respectively.

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One comment on “New Report: FBI Can Access Hundreds of Millions of Face Recognition Photos

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Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.

Michael Ellner

The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.

Tom Clancy

If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

George Washington

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