Profile image
By Cop Block (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views

Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

Half Of U.S. Adults Already In Facial Recognition Database Study Shows

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 9:34
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

A new study conducted by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology shows that half of all U.S. adults are already in a facial recognition database accessible by police.

========= Multi-Author AdSense ========= Skipped due to there being 3 AdSense ads on this page already ========================================

According to the study, many adults are in some sort of facial recognition database because at least 26 states share their Department of Motor Vehicles databases with the FBI, state police, or other law enforcement agencies.

Add that to the fact that police often have access to mugshot databases, which usually aren’t purged – even if suspects are proven innocent – and the numbers become substantial.

The report found that more than one in four law enforcement agencies have access to facial recognition software or have some sort of partnership with an intelligence agency that does.

Examples include federal and local law enforcement coalitions like the West Virginia Fusion Center, which possesses software that matches individuals in video footage with a photograph database and shares the information with the FBI, West Virginia State Police, local police departments, and perhaps 77 other fusion centers around the country.

The authors of the study, which was conducted over the course of a year analyzing Freedom of Information Act and public records requests, are recommending greater oversight of the technology and say that the images of more than 117 million Americans are now searchable by cops.

They are asking for the following reforms:

  • Databases should rely on police photographs, not driver’s licenses and photo IDs.
  • Law enforcement should occasionally eliminate innocent people from any search.


  • Searches of driver’s license and ID photos should require a court order and be limited to serious crimes, with the exception of identity theft and fraud cases.
  • An explicit ban should be enacted against tracking people on the basis of political or religious beliefs, race or ethnicity.

The authors of the report say that just one agency in the country, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, has specifically prohibited the use of the software to track individuals engaging in First Amendment protected political or religious speech.

“This is unprecedented and highly problematic,” the report said. “There is a real risk that police face recognition will be used to stifle free speech.”

========= Multi-Author AdSense ========= Skipped due to there being 3 AdSense ads on this page already ========================================

The authors are calling on Congress and state legislatures to enact laws establishing stricter regulations on the facial recognition technology. No state has yet established a law regulating police use of the software.

According to the FBI, they have “made privacy and civil liberties integral to every decision since the inception of [the] use of facial recognition technology, establishing practices that protect privacy and civil liberties beyond the requirements of the law.”

The New York Times revealed last year that facial recognition software utilized by intelligence agencies and the military is being imported from places like Iraq and Afghanistan to local United States police departments – with some cities like New York, Chicago, and San Diego deploying huge networks connected to 10s of thousands of surveillance cameras.


The software works to determine the distance between a suspects eyes or the shape of their lips – and is able to identify over 16,000 distinct points on a face. The technology then compares the points with thousands of other similar points in booking and other photos at a rate of more than one million faces per second.

The error rate for the software is as high as 20 percent. The American Civil Liberties Union says facial recognition software is easily tripped up by changes in hairstyle or facial hair, by aging, weight gain or loss, and by simple disguises.

One study of the technology conducted by the Department of Defense found very high error rates including both “false positives” and “false negatives,” even under ideal conditions.

========= Multi-Author AdSense ========= Skipped due to there being 3 AdSense ads on this page already ========================================

Half Of U.S. Adults Already In Facial Recognition Database Study Shows is a post from Cop Block – Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights


We encourage you to Share our Reports, Analyses, Breaking News and Videos. Simply Click your Favorite Social Media Button and Share.

Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories



Top Global

Top Alternative




Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.