Facial Recognition Tech Could Ensnare Millions of Innocent Americans for Crimes They Didn’t Commit

Thursday, March 30, 2017
By Paul Martin

Daniel Lang
March 30th, 2017

It’s often the case that new technologies arrive on the scene faster than our society and its legal code can keep up. Sometimes this can be a good thing. For instance, 3D printing allows people to print out unregulated gun parts, thus allowing gun owners to circumvent the onerous laws of our government, which has struggled to come up with new laws to restrict the technology.

When technology advances at a breakneck pace however, it can also be quite dangerous for our liberties. This is especially true in regards to privacy. If a new technology makes it easy for the government to track us, you can bet that the government is going to take its sweet time updating the legal code in a way that will protect us from surveillance.

That certainly seems to be the case with facial recognition software. During a recent Congressional Oversight Committee hearing, members of both political parties sounded the alarm on the FBI’s use of the technology, and read the written testimony of Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Jennifer Lynch:

Lynch detailed the stunning scope of the FBI’s photo collection. In addition to collecting criminal and civil mug shots, the agency currently has “memorandums of understanding” with 16 states that mean every driver’s license photo from those states is accessible to the agency—without the drivers’ consent. The FBI also has access to photos from the U.S. State Department’s passport and visa records.

Lynch argued that “Americans should not be forced to submit to criminal face recognition searches merely because they want to drive a car. They shouldn’t have to worry their data will be misused by unethical government officials with unchecked access to face recognition databases. And they shouldn’t have to fear that their every move will be tracked if face recognition is linked to the networks of surveillance cameras that blanket many cities.”

“But without meaningful legal protections, this is where we may be headed,” Lynch stated. “Without laws in place, it could be relatively easy for the government and private companies to amass databases of images of all Americans and use those databases to identify and track people in real time as they move from place to place throughout their daily lives.”

All told, law enforcement agencies around the country have access to 400 million photos in facial recognition databases, which are connected to roughly 50% of American adults. Most of these people have never committed a crime, and obviously haven’t given any consent to this.

The Rest…HERE

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