FBI’s Massive Facial Recognition Database Is Dangerously Flawed

Please Share This Story!

TN Note: How many times has the intel community been slapped down by Congress and/or the Judiciary for illegal surveillance on innocent Americans? Nevertheless, their activities have accelerated with impunity, and this is a clear confirmation that Technocracy is marching forward on its own agenda and timetable. How is it that the FBI now has million of records from state driver’s licenses? Fusion Centers! I have warned for years that the real function of Fusion Centers was never about national security, but rather about the collection and reformatting of disparate types of data from state and local databases. Fusion Centers were implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, but the data they collect winds up in the hands of the FBI and NSA.  This cooperation further confirms that intel agencies are acting in concert and answering to a higher authority, namely, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) The DNI has unified all intel operations under a single command, even though the various agencies retain their former names and branding. This unified intel behemoth is fully dedicated to surveilling all American citizens at all times.

The problem is: The system is deeply and dangerously flawed. 

The FBI steadily, stealthily compiled a massive facial recognition database without oversight and in disregard of federal law, according to a report released today by the Government Accountability Office.

The bombshell report reveals that the FBI dipped into driver’s license photo databases from 16 states, as well as passport and visa photo databases from the State Department, feeding its facial recognition with millions of photos of Americans and foreigners who have never been accused of a crime. The FBI has access to a whopping 411.9 million images for use in facial recognition, roughly 30 million of which are mug shots.

The sheer number of photos described in the GAO report is staggering, but what’s worse is that the FBI didn’t make public disclosures about the program required by law, the report says. The GAO recommended that the FBI make several improvements to its transparency process and assess its past failures. The report instructs that the U.S. Attorney General should determine why the FBI didn’t publish legally mandated privacy assessments as it expanded its facial recognition program.

The Privacy Act requires government agencies to disclose how they harvest and use personal information like ID photos, but the GAO found that the FBI didn’t make the mandatory disclosures.

“There appears to be no internal oversight on this system and that’s remarkable,” Alvaro Bedoya, the executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, told TechCrunch. Bedoya previously worked for Senator Al Franken, the legislator who has frequently pushed for oversight of facial recognition technology and requested that the GAO audit the FBI’s use of the technology.

“Today we found out that they have no idea if they’re misusing it or not,” Bedoya said of the FBI. “They’ve literally never done an audit.”

Bedoya pointed out that many Americans don’t expect their driver’s license photos to end up in a federal law enforcement database.

 “When you turn 16 or 17, you don’t go down to the police station and give them your fingerprints; you go get your driver’s license. Turns out, it’s the same thing as far as the FBI is concerned,” he said. “They might not be storing these photos at Quantico but it has built, in effect, a nationwide biometric database using driver’s license photos. It’s breathtaking.”

The GAO report also notes that the reliability of the FBI’s facial recognition technology is virtually untested, and testing it for accuracy is complicated, given that the FBI searches several different state and federal databases for photos. Studies have consistently found facial recognition software to be faulty when identifying minorities, women and young people, and it’s probable that the FBI’s databases are susceptible to similar biases.

Read full story…

Join our mailing list!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments