If you’ve been to the DMV to have your driver’s license photo taken, there’s a good chance your face is in a little-known group of databases that functions like a digital police lineup. Except, in this case, you needn’t even be suspected of a crime, and soon the searching could take place virtually anywhere, anytime.
It’s just one example of the exploding use of facial recognition technology in law enforcement, and it’s raising major concerns among U.S. lawmakers and privacy advocates.
“I’m frankly appalled,” Representative Paul Mitchell, a Republican from Michigan, told Kimberly Del Greco, the FBI’s deputy assistant director of criminal justice, during a House oversight committee hearing last week. “I wasn’t informed when my driver’s license was renewed my photograph was going to be in a repository that could be searched by law enforcement across the country.”
Mitchell’s face and those of more than 125 million Americans—more than half of the country’s adult population—are thought to be stored in a vast network of databases used by local and federal law enforcement to scan photos and videos of individuals. Many of these faces, which can be searched without reasonable suspicion, belong to people who have never been charged with a crime and have no idea they are being searched.
Yet there are few guidelines or legal rulings that govern exactly how face recognition, like a number of other new technologies, should be used by police. In a report last May on the FBI’s system, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found the FBI had “not fully adhered to privacy laws and policies and had not taken sufficient action to help ensure accuracy of its face recognition technology.” In response to the report, which urged the FBI to conduct regular audits of the system, “the Department of Justice and the FBI disagreed with three recommendations and had taken some actions to address the remainder, but had not fully implemented them,” the GAO said.
Read more at Fast Company.