FBI’s Facial Recognition Program Goes Operational
Years in the making, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) high-tech program for identifying suspects through their facial features is now functional.
Known as the Next Generation Identification system, the facial recognition software now has “full operational capability,” the FBI announced this week. The program will utilize mugshots and other “biometric information” to “provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities. This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler,” the FBI stated.
Jason Mick at Daily Tech reports that 26 states have agreed to participate in the program which could lead to many law-abiding Americans being “dragged into criminal investigations due to the database’s alarmingly high levels of false positives.”
The system responds to a query by generating a list of 50 candidates that come closest to matching the information on a suspect, but is accurate only 85% of the time. In addition, the database used by the system has primarily data on known criminals, but information on others, including government employees and contractors, is also there. That increases the possibility of an innocent person being tagged as a suspect because of an error. The system may also be able to access other databases, such as DMV and Department of State records, which would increase the chances of a law-abiding citizen being caught up in a criminal investigation.
Work on the program began in 2006, and its creation is the product of technology developed by leading defense contractors Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems, as well as tech giant IBM. The algorithm for the facial recognition program was written by MorphoTrust.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
FBI Announces Full Operational Capability of the Next Generation Identification System (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
FBI's New Facial Recognition System May Cover a Third of Americans (by Jason Mick, Daily Tech)
Facial Recognition Software Creeps Closer to Total Accuracy (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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