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Half of Americans on Databases Used for Facial Recognition

Image: Half of Americans on Databases Used for Facial Recognition

By    |   Wednesday, 19 Oct 2016 10:12 AM

Half of all American adults are in law enforcement databases that are used for facial recognition, according to a new report, “The Perpetual Lineup,” released Tuesday by the Center on Privacy and Technology at the Georgetown Law Center.

The database is under scrutiny, as the authors of the report claim that the technology surveys innocent individuals and is even one of the leading causes of police officers racially profiling African-Americans, The Hill noted.

Alvaro Bedoya, a co-author of the report, said that in the past, law enforcement “never created a database that’s populated of law abiding people,” but that’s changed now because of face-recognition databases, The Hill reported.

Before the databases, data of fingerprints and DNA was tracked when criminal arrests were made and when investigations were conducted, but now, thanks to driver’s license records, the FBI has access to half of Americans’ fingerprints and DNA, The Hill noted.

The 150-page report refers to this as an unprecedented matter.

“Innocent people don’t belong in criminal databases,” Bedoya said, according to Ars Technica. “By using face recognition to scan the faces on 26 states’ driver license and ID photos, police and the FBI have basically enrolled half of all adults in a massive virtual line-up…It’s uncharted and frankly dangerous territory.”

According to the report, 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.”

Perhaps, the only silver lining for the more than 400 million Americans in the database is the fact that “the FBI has not audited use of its face recognition system” and that “only nine of 52 agencies (17%) indicated that they log and audit their officers’ face recognition searches for improper use,” the Ars Technica noted.

And of those nine agencies, only one of them, the Michigan State Police, has provided documentation that their audit system was even functional.

“Now, I believe that facial recognition can be a very useful tool in the fight against crime – it can in fact help us catch violent offenders and criminals,” said Senator Al Franken (D.-Minn.), who held a 2012 Senate hearing about the law enforcements use of facial recognition. “But I’m also a firm believer that Americans have a fundamental right to privacy. So I want to ensure that this technology is accurate, transparent, and that our use of facial recognition technology appropriately balances privacy and public safety.”

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Half of all American adults are in law enforcement databases that are used for facial recognition, according to a new report, "The Perpetual Lineup," released Tuesday by the Center on Privacy and Technology at the Georgetown Law Center.
half, americans, databases, facial recognition
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2016-12-19
Wednesday, 19 Oct 2016 10:12 AM
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