FBI Agrees to Share Facial Recognition Searches with All Police Departments

Thursday, August 23, 2012
(graphic: Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Police departments across the United States will soon have access to facial recognition software developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).


Under the expanding pilot project, the FBI will provide its Universal Face Workstation to police for free. The program will allow local law enforcement to compare photos of suspects against a repository of nearly 13 million criminal mug shots.


Michigan was the first state to gain access to the software under a pilot project launched earlier this year.


Five other states (Hawaii, Maryland, South Carolina, Ohio and New Mexico) have signed memorandums of understanding with the FBI to use the workstations.


In addition, Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Nebraska and Missouri are interested in participating in the program.


U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) has expressed some reservations regarding the facial recognition software, saying there is currently no law regulating its use by police.


“Facial recognition creates acute privacy concerns that fingerprints do not,” Franken said at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law. “Once someone has your faceprint, they can get your name, they can find your social networking account and they can find and track you in the street, in the stores you visit, the government buildings you enter, and the photos your friends post online.”


Franken added that he’s afraid the software “could be abused to not only identify protesters at political events and rallies, but to target them for selective jailing and prosecution, stifling their First Amendment rights.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

FBI To Open Facial Recognition Searches To Police Nationwide (by Kathleen Hickey, Government Computer News)

FBI’s Facial Recognition is Coming to a State Near You (by Jennifer Lynch, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

FBI Prepares Billion-Dollar Iris Recognition Database (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


RastaMike 11 years ago
The FBI says they are giving these workstations to local police depts for free,what they really mean is that the federal govt is paying and not the local govt.But guess what,both local and the feds get their money from the same place.Yes that would be us taxpayers.Any govt is not capable of giving something away for free and to say so is an outright lie.

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