1 billion nationwide facial recognition system

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun rolling out its new $1 billion biometric Next Generation Identification (NGI) system. In essence, NGI is a nationwide database of mugshots, iris scans, DNA records, voice samples, and other biometrics, that will help the FBI identify and catch criminals but it is how this biometric data is captured, through a nationwide network of cameras and photo databases, that is raising the eyebrows of privacy advocates.

Until now, the FBI relied on IAFIS, a national fingerprint database that has long been due an overhaul. Over the last few months, the FBI has been pilot testing a facial recognition system and soon, detectives will also be able to search the system for other biometrics such as DNA records and iris scans. In theory, this should result in much faster positive identifications of criminals and fewer unsolved cases.

According to New Scientist, facial recognition systems have reached the point where they can match a single face from a pool of 1.6 million mugshots/passport photos with 92% accuracy,Fake Ray Bans in under 1.2 seconds [PDF]. In the case of automated, biometric border controls where your face and corresponding mugshot are well lit, the accuracy approaches 100%. Likewise, where DNA or iris records exist, it a very expedient way of accurately identifying suspects.

So far, so good catching criminals faster and making less false arrests must be a good thing, right? Well, yes, but there are some important caveats that we must bear in mind. For a start, the pilot study has only used mugshots and driving license photos of known criminals but the FBI hasn guaranteed that this will always be the case. There may come a time when the NGI is filled with as many photos as possible, from as many sources as possible, of as many people as possible criminal or otherwise. This might be as overt as parsing CCTV footage and collating every single face into a database; or maybe you just unlucky and your face ends up in the system because you in the background of a photo starring a known criminal.

Imagine if the NGI had full access to every driving license and passport photo in the country and DNA records kept by doctors, and iris scans kept by businesses. The FBI NGI, if the right checks and balances aren in place, could very easily become a tool that decimates civilian privacy and freedom. Time to invest in a hoodie, I think Precrime creeps closer to reality, with predictive smartphone location tracking

Tagged InI see nothing about innocent people getting matched and this worries me.

Not matching a criminal 8% of the time isn so bad, but detaining an innocent person 8% of the time potentially could have huge consequences to the lives of those innocent people and their families and jobs.

Also, how could they really determine 92%?

Did they run 100% of the population through and insure that people who were very similar did not get flagged erroneously?

Or did they only run photos of known criminals (which is an invalid test if an equal number of innocent but similar faces were not also run through the system) to test the system?

If they ran Mall security footage on a busy holiday, Fake Ray Ban Sunglasses how many matches would it find to people known to have actually been incarcerated elsewhere?

I doubt the validity of their tests which no doubt were stacked in the favor of the system.

It hard not to make matches when all photos submitted are of criminals would happen if twice as many innocent faces were run through the system? How many would get flagged?

Nice to have the update on dwindling privacy though article for that, even if test procedures and unweighted data is not made available also

No problem

Loved your article, and even after reading the PDF I still have to wonder at their testing accuracy. If you take pictures of inmates and then compare them to a database of known criminals you are bound to have a high percentage of positive matches PDF also said there was need for humans to make the final ID from a group of 10 or so matches that indicates to me the computer part of the system is MUCH LESS than 90% accurate.

It also limited the population to 1.6 Million a wonderful tidbit out of the PDF: Pictures in the database ranges from 4KB to a few hundred KB LOL

Do you realize how ridiculous a 4KB picture match is? Who are they matching, Pac Man?

After reading that I couldn take their match rate seriously any longer for pointing the direction our tax dollars are going (down the drain)

there seems to be a lack of coherent thought at the FBI; in theory this sounds great but any reasonably clever criminal takes steps to alter/hide their appearance. for instance, if i were to try and rob a bank i would let about a month or two worth of facial hair and head hair grow and put in a set of green or blue contacts and make sure the get away car had shaving supplies and my glasses, rob the bank, drive a few blocks away into an underground garage or some similar hiding place, shave my head and face, pop out the contacts and put on my glasses and be on my way. my drivers license, passport, everyone that knows me will tell you that i clean shaven, shaved head, glasses, all the FBI would have is a picture of a guy that looks like Grizzly Adams. i defy anyone to show me any piece of software that can match 2 pictures of me when i clean shaven and when i am hairy.

Agreed. I just was pointing out that simply growing facial hair, shaving your head, and putting contacts in will basically do nothing to fool the software. Look this will never be a perfect science, but neither is DNA testing, and that holds up in court. Cheap Fake Ray Bans The fact that their system can give 92% accuracy, after scanning 1.2 million pictures, in 1.2 seconds, is a pretty impressive starting point. I sure within the next 10 years the accuracy will be high 90 just under 100%. Also, for things that block the software from taking exact measurements (like the hair styles you mentioned or even a mask) I read they have techniques to still identify people with facial recognition software. As to the exact details, I do not know. So basically, gone are the days of being able to rob a bank with just a mask and a gun lolz guess criminals will just have to get smarter

facial recognition won do squat if the face is obscured with a mask.

with regards to your comments on DNA i tend to be of the school of thought that DNA should not be used in many circumstances to prove a match but rather should primarily be used to exclude a suspect.

if i grow a full beard and let my hair grow, Ray Ban Sunglasses Cheap how is a piece of software going to measure the distance from my nose to my mouth (i grow pretty full beards)? how is it going to measure the distance between my eyes when i let my hair grow long and it covers the top of my face? how is it going to compensate for the fact that the video and/or still pic is a 2d representation of a 3d object (my face)?

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