The FBI has built a face-recognition database that has 441.9 million entries

The FBI has revealed that as many as 411.9 million images form part of its new face-recognition database, which it constructed from various sources.

The FBI has revealed its 411.9 million strong face-recognition database – the bulk of which has been constructed out of photographs who haven’t committed any form of crime.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a new report, stated that the FBI’s Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation Services Unit has constructed its database out of 30 million mug shots as well as driver’s licenses, visa and passport photos, and biometric entries such as fingerprints.
Read: The FBI‘s new software will track and sort you by your tattoos
The GAO’s report arrives two years after the FBI escalated its face-recognition database project from a pilot study to “full operational capability” in 2014.
The GAO cites that the FBI has accumulated a database which raises several privacy concerns and might not be entirely accurate, stating that “the FBI has entered into agreements to search and access external databases“”including millions of U.S. citizens‘ drivers‘ license and passport photos“”but until FBI officials can assure themselves that the data they receive from external partners are reasonably accurate and reliable, it is unclear whether such agreements are beneficial to the FBI and do not unnecessarily include photos of innocent people as investigative leads.”
The FBI’s face-recognition database has been constructed from driver’s license photos, mugshot photos, and correction photos in four key states; Utah, North Dakota, Michigan, and South Carolina.
ArsTechnica reveals that the FBI’s Next Generation Identification Interstate Photo System is capable of analysing images captured by state or local law enforcement against images represented in its database. Lawfully, state law enforcement agencies would be required to submit a photo and search request to he FBI in order to attempt to match a suspect or person within its database.
Jennifer Lynch, an attorney of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stated that “many of the 411.9 million face images to which FBI has access“”like driver‘s license and passport and visa photos“”were never collected for criminal or national security purposes.”
Previously, face-recognition technology has been found to be biased against African-Americans, and failed to successfully identify and apprehend Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the wake of the Boston bombings.
In reply to the GAO, the FBI defended its report, stating that “(It) has established practices that protect privacy and civil liberties beyond the requirements of the law… The FBI fully recognizes that the automated nature of face recognition technology and the sheer number of photos now available for searching raise important privacy and civil liberties considerations. For that reason, the FBI has made privacy and civil liberties integral to every decision from the inception regarding its use of face recognition technology.”
The FBI’s face-recognition database is an unprecedented collection of imagery, which raises several concerns around mass surveillance in the United States.
Read: Facebook and Twitter support Apple against the FBI
What are your thoughts on the FBI’s collection of images? Where should a line between state security and personal privacy be drawn? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below.
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA
Source: ArsTechnica