Jennifer Lynch writes:
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.
Read more on EFF.
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411 million photos and only TWO ARRESTS
To date, more than 6,000 face recognition leads have been returned to FBI agents and other investigators. Most investigations are ongoing, but two arrests have been made as a result of leads provided by the FACE Services Unit, and two victims from a violent crimes case have been located.
18,000 law enforcement agencies voluntarily gave our photos to the FBI
The majority of photos enrolled in NGI-IPS are voluntary submissions from 18,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities. About 70 percent of the photos in NGI-IPS were criminal mugshots stored in IAFIS that were not searchable with face recognition technology until the development of NGI.
“The total number of face photos available in all searchable repositories is over 411 million, and the FBI is interested in adding additional federal and state face recognition systems to their search capabilities.” (Page 15)