Big Brother Alert: F.B.I. Set to Share Facial Recognition Searches With Police Departments
Under the expanding pilot project, the FBI will provide its Universal Face Workstation to police for free. The program will allow local law enforcement to compare photos of suspects against a repository of nearly 13 million criminal mug shots.
Michigan was the first state to gain access to the software under a pilot project launched earlier this year.
Five other states (Hawaii, Maryland, South Carolina, Ohio and New Mexico) have signed memorandums of understanding with the FBI to use the workstations.
Some civil libertarians have already expressed reservations about the software because is it largely unregulated. Meaning, there are no guidelines as to how it will should or should not be applied in investigations.
Senator Al Franken (D- Minnesota) expressed his concerns, saying “facial recognition creates acute privacy concerns that fingerprints do not.” He continued, “Once someone has your faceprint, they can get your name, they can find your social networking account and they can find and track you in the street, in the stores you visit, the government buildings you enter, and the photos your friends post online.”
There are also concerns as to who will be targeted by this new technology. Some fear that the FBI and police could use the technology to target and track non-violent protesters.
The F.B.I. says its program is “The Next Generation Facial Recognition Pilot makes it possible to conduct image-based searches of the FBI’s national repository of photographs. The database contains only mug shots—pictures law enforcement takes during the booking process.”
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