According to the US GAO the FBI’s Next Generation Identification facial recognition system has access to 411.9M photos of Americans and foreigners alike.
When we talk about technology, privacy and security are concepts that are often at odds.
Let’s think for example of a facial recognition system, this technology could be used in many contexts for security reason, but often raises serious concerns for the users’ privacy.
Let’s think for example of FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) facial recognition system, it was initially estimated that it has access to 70 million photos, but recently the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has discovered that the bureau has access to 411.9 million pictures of Americans and foreigners alike.
It is worrisome that the US law enforcement has access to photos of individuals that have no criminal records.
According to the GAO, the FBI’s Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation (FACE) Services unit has access to an impressive amount of data from various sources. The list of sources included the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) face recognition database of nearly 30 million civil and criminal mug shot photos, the Defense Department’s biometric database, the State Department’s Visa and Passport databases, 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.
If you sum the number of pictures from all these sources you will discover that the FBI can access 411.9 million images, most of which are of Americans and foreigners without criminal records.
“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.” states the nonprofit organization EFF.
The EFF pointed out that the FBI has spent the necessary effort to make sure that its “investigative leads” don’t include photos of innocent people. The FBI hasn’t conducted the necessary tests for the accuracy of NGI’s face recognition capabilities.