There is a lot of buzz about the FBI’s facial recognition system that’s being installed nationwide, with some people saying that it signals the end of privacy while others say the distress is overblown.Whatever your level of concern, two things are certain: currently there are no U.S. laws that limit government agencies or private companies from storing facial recognition data, and this type of database already exists.
“Many Americans don’t even realise that they’re already in a facial recognition database,” Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Jennifer Lynch told the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy in July, PC World reported. “Facial recognition allows for covert, remote and mass capture of identification and images.”
We previously reported that Walt Disney World is responsible for the nation’s largest collection and statistical analysis of biological data, through visitor fingerprint scanning and facial recognition software.
The FBI has shown an interest in using facial recognition to monitor people at political rallies—or Occupy Wall Street protests—although the bureau maintains it will only use its database to catch criminals.
“The best-case scenario when it comes to privacy protection is that an image would not be stored after it has been determined that there is no match of it in the database,” Dr. Rob D’Ovidio, associate professor of criminal justice at Drexel University, told CBS. “If they’re retained, those people going about their everyday lives not doing anything criminal run the risk of the government being able to re-create their travels and understand patterns of behaviour.”
We noted yesterday the FBI’s facial recognition system could feasibly be integrated with the National Security Agency’s domestic spying apparatus, which whistleblower William Binney revealed can build profiles of citizens and their associates through all types of electronic communications.
Adding biological information from TrapWire or FBI facial recognition systems to the NSA’s electronic communications database would enable an unprecedented level of surveillance.
The NSA’s warrantless surveillance methods arguably violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects U.S. residents against unreasonable search and seizure.
But Duke law professor Nita Farahany told the privacy subcommittee that facial recognition does not create an unreasonable search since it is done at a distance.
“No physical contact, proximity or detention of an individual is necessary for law enforcement to obtain a face print,” PC World quoted her as saying. “A face print is a form of identifying information that is the bread and butter [of] law enforcement.“
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.