Bringing the "wanted poster in the post office" concept into the 21st century, the FBI has begun using facial recognition software to identify fugitives on North Carolina highways. The software measures the biometric features of thousands of motorists' DMV photos, matching them against mugshots. When the face matches that of a known criminal, the authorities jump into action.
The program has already succeeded in identifying, and aiding in the apprehension of, a double homicide suspect. However, some worry that this technology necessarily tracks innocent people, violating the privacy of thousands of motorists.
"Everybody's participating, essentially, in a virtual lineup by getting a driver's license," Christopher Calabrese, an attorney who focuses on privacy issues at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Associated Press.
Federal statutes prevent the FBI from accessing state and local photos like those used for driver's licenses. However, this program neatly circumvents that federal prohibition by operating out of the North Carolina state DMV.
Additionally, the accuracy of the system still needs some work, as a photo of an Associated Press reporter registered a 72 percent likeness with the face of a known terrorist.
The FBI plans to expand the program nationwide if the pilot program in North Carolina continues to bear fruit, adding another wrinkle to the ongoing debate over the balance between personal privacy and public safety.
[via The Associated Press]
So the FBI is going to use a technicality to violate federal law? Makes you feel all warm inside, doesn't it.
No, the FBI gives the guys over at the NCDMV the software and let them run it and report it. All the FBI gets is the hits from the DMV. They never see or have access to the pictures or files of the law abiding motorist.
The DMV can scan the photos all they want. So, the DMV does the work, the FBI and local law enforcement get the results.
Along with puting the warrent system into a state-wide database and other recent updates to the information and dissemination of it in NC law enforcement, they really are becoming much more efficient in a state NOT know for efficiency in anything governmental.
Personally, I think that the lack of communication between counties, counties and states, and states on warrants and suspects is negligence towards public safty. I don't want federal police officers, as local police have deeper ties to the community, put a federal registry of warrants and criminal record would be a welcome addition to law enforcement.
Personally, I believe this software to be a blessing to women, like myself, who have been an unfortunate victim of sexual assault. The assault took place when I had just turned 16, in 1984. Today, I informed the City Police, County, and State Departments of the incident. All I have is a photograph, a first name and the knowledge he shared with me; that he had sexually assaulted young girls, as young as 12. I am hoping this photograph, combined with this software, will help locate him and put him in prison where he belongs. The State Police did say that if he is a registered sex offender, then they would have much better luck in finding him. Maybe this software can help others who have been violated in some way, as well. I also have to agree with Oakspar77777, this may help bridge the communication gap between authorities.
I think it is a great tool to have only if they only had it a few months before 9-11. I think every DMV in the country should have this program. I do not believe that they are breaking any laws they need to be one up on the scum. They should also have this program at every border crossing and at all airports. I hope soon that the local police are able to have a hand held device. If you can't do the time then don't do the crime.