FBI Can Access 412 Million Images including foreigners for Face Recognition

The FBI’s face recognition tool can access a whopping 412 million images including foreigners according to a new US government report.

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which released yesterday, reveals that FBI’s face recognition system, known as Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation (FACE) access to more photos than previously thought, totaling over 411.9 million images.

This figure is much much more that the conservative estimate of 30 million that FBI has been peddling to US public till now. FBI had told the US public that its face recognition database known as Next Generation Identification (NGI) contained around 30 million images from civil and criminal mug shots.

The GAO report also reveals that FBI traded its database with several US states and gained access to additional images stored in the State Department’s Visa and Passport databases, the Defense Department’s biometric database, and the multiple drivers license databases.

The GAO report highlights that many of these databases contain images of persons who have not committed any crime, or foreign citizens. It also indicates that the FBI can search these databases at will.

Number of Photos Available to Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation (FACE) Services by Reposi tory as of December 2015

The EFF pointed out that the “unprecedented number of photographs” isn’t the only problem. GAO’s report also said that the FBI didn’t test its system thoroughly for accuracy. It “has done little to make sure that its search results… do not include photos of innocent people,”EFF noted on its blogpost.

EFF feels that since facial recognition technologies aren’t perfect and still has issues recognizing people of color, FACE could return results mixing law abiding citizens with criminals and terrorists.

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