Police Have Facial Recognition Network of 117M Faces & You’re Probably in It
Georgetown University Center on Privacy and Technology (CPT) published a report on law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology and its impact on the general public’s right to privacy.
CPT found that nearly 50% of Americans are in the “law enforcement face recognition network” without their knowledge – and without having to take a mug shot.
The fact is law enforcement use this technology “is not limited to serious criminals”; and the disturbing revelation from the CPT is that utilizing facial recognition is “not limited at all, really.”
This study’s finding show:
- Nearly 117 million American adults are in the facial recognition network
- Agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) uses these databases more often than wiretapping
- Twenty-five percent of police departments use facial recognition networks
- Facial recognition databases are cross-referenced with photo identification information banks
Police officers can easily scan these networks for photos of people who have not committed a crime simply because there are not laws passed that could “comprehensively regulate police face recognition.”
The report points out that “major police departments are exploring real-time face recognition on live surveillance camera video” regardless of the fact that this technology is severely flawed because “cameras do not often capture images of people head-on, and light surrounding cameras is in constant flux.”
The poor quality if the video, combined with multiple live-streams capturing images all at once, make it unlikely that this type of evidence could be used to convict a suspect. And yet, police departments in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas “have either already used the technology, bought it from a vendor, or have said they’re interested in acquiring it.”
Some police departments have taken surveillance a step further. In Baltimore and Fresno, cops are allowed to use surveillance software to monitor tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook activity of targeted individuals.
Two years ago, media reports surfaced of police departments using Google Glass to identify individuals in public via patrol officers.
According to one report : “It’s in the early stages. A handful of people are testing it out. If it works, it could be very beneficial for a cop on patrol who walks into a building with these glasses on. It would be like the Terminator. You walk past somebody and you get his pedigree info if he’s wanted for a warrant right on your eye screen. You can identify the bad guys immediately within seconds.”
Another story stated that a high “ranking New York City law enforcement official” divulged that: “We signed up, got a few pairs of the Google glasses, and we’re trying them out, seeing if they have any value in investigations, mostly for patrol purposes. We’re looking at them, you know, seeing how they work.”
CopTrax, a surveillance tech corporation, has reported to have worked with law enforcement on a “new ground-breaking in-car video system from Stalker, in conjunction with the Byron, Ga., Police Department, performed the first successful field trail of Google Glass by law enforcement officials.”
Applied Concepts is the corporation that owns Stalker Radar which was first introduced to “the law enforcement industry in 1989.”
This company prides themselves as the ‘auto industry’s authority for phone skills training and development.”
Stalker Radar “is the dominant Doppler radar system and continues to lead the industry in technology breakthroughs and product innovations.”
According to CopTrax, Operation Police Officer (OPO) was a beta-testing trial wherein “actual law enforcement situations and environments” were predisposed to participants in order “to test Glass’s compatibility with CopTrax’s innovative real-time video streaming, high-resolution video capture and cloud storage, and live GPS tracking from any Internet-connected computer.”
The activities tested by OPO included:
- Patrol with Radar and Laser – Each of the officers participated in vehicle patrol using the Google Glass device running with the CopTrax application.
- Traffic Stop – Both officers performed several traffic stops while using the Google Glass device running with the CopTrax application.
- Arrest – Officers performed one arrest while using the Google Glass device running the CopTrax app.
- Firing Service Weapons – Both officers fired their service pistols and patrol rifles to check video stability, device retention, and effects of recoil.
The OPO trial also evaluated “the increased situational awareness and capture of high-quality audio and video evidence from the officer’s perspective.”
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