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Do You Feel Safer Knowing the FBI Has Access To 640 Million (!) Headshots?

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https://reason.com/2019/06/04/do-you-feel-safer-knowing-the-fbi-has-access-to-640-million-headshots/

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The FBI cops to the fact that its database of mugshots, called the Interstate Photo System, has about 36 million entries. The feds use facial recognition technology, among other techniques, to sift through photos during its investigations.

But that's the tip of the iceberg. Gretta Goodwin, a director at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today that the FBI can scan about 640 million pictures, including not just mugshots but driver's licenses and passport photos. From the AP's account:

Taking into account the bureau contracts providing access to driver's licenses in 21 states, and its use of photos and other databases, the FBI has access to about 640 million photographs, Goodwin told lawmakers at the House oversight committee hearing.

But don't worry, because the FBI has "strict policies" governing the use of such technology, said a spokesman for an agency that is exceedingly well-known for what the American Civil Liberties Union calls an "unchecked abuse of authority" that is exceptionally well-documented in Tim Weiner's 2012 book Enemies: A History of the FBI. While J. Edgar Hoover's legendary contempt for the rule of law and darkly comic episodes such as a failed attempt to discern the lyrics of the 1963 pop song "Louie, Louie" are widely known, the FBI continues to be a dumpster fire when it comes to accountability. A 2018 Time cover story, for instance, was titled "The FBI Is in Crisis. It's Worse Than You Think," and wrote about internal investigations that, among other things,

 

showed that the ousted deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, had lied to the bureau's internal investigations branch to cover up a leak he orchestrated about Clinton's family foundation less than two weeks before the election. … Another IG report in March found that FBI retaliation against internal whistle-blowers was continuing despite years of bureau pledges to fix the problem. Last fall, [Justice Department Inspector General Michael] Horowitz found that the FBI wasn't adequately investigating "high-risk" employees who failed polygraph tests.

Back to today's congressional testimony about the FBI's access to photos and its rules about using facial recognition technology:

Kimberly Del Greco, a deputy assistant director at the FBI, said the bureau has strict policies for using facial recognition. She said it is used only when there is an active FBI investigation or an assessment, which can precede a formal investigation. When using the state databases, the FBI submits a so-called "probe photo" and then states conduct a search to yield a list of potential candidates to be reviewed by trained federal agents.

"Facial recognition is a tool that, if used properly, can greatly enhance law enforcement capabilities and protect public safety," she said.

...

I don't feel safer, only more concerned about the violation of my civil liberties.    As one of the comments to this story states: "it has become hard not to see the FBI as functioning as this country’s secret political police."

 

 

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The FBI has a long and storied past of blackmail, extortion, illegal surveillance, etc., at the highest levels that dates back to it's inception. No one is immune, not even presidents. Why would we ever thing anything any different?

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The FBI's probably the least of everyone's concerns.  Facebook has better facial recognition algorithms and probably a larger database of images.  Oh, and plenty of your friends and family just helping them expand that by posting pics and then tagging them with your name for clarification.  Not to mention the machine learning processes that then find the stuff that isn't tagged and metatags it.

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4 minutes ago, foxbat said:

The FBI's probably the least of everyone's concerns.  Facebook has better facial recognition algorithms and probably a larger database of images.  Oh, and plenty of your friends and family just helping them expand that by posting pics and then tagging them with your name for clarification.  Not to mention the machine learning processes that then find the stuff that isn't tagged and metatags it.

FTA:

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Taking into account the bureau contracts providing access to driver's licenses in 21 states, and its use of photos and other databases,

Are we sure Facebook isn't one of those "other databases" the FBI currently either has or can easily obtain access to?

 

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