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FBI Using Facial Recognition Software on Drivers License Data Banks

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  • FBI Using Facial Recognition Software on Drivers License Data Banks

    FBI delves into DMV photos in search for fugitives

    By MIKE BAKER (Associated Press Writer)
    From Associated Press
    October 12, 2009 6:17 PM EDT

    RALEIGH, N.C. - In its search for fugitives, the FBI has begun using facial-recognition technology on millions of motorists, comparing driver's license photos with pictures of convicts in a high-tech analysis of chin widths and nose sizes.

    The project in North Carolina has already helped nab at least one suspect. Agents are eager to look for more criminals and possibly to expand the effort nationwide. But privacy advocates worry that the method allows authorities to track people who have done nothing wrong.

    "Everybody's participating, essentially, in a virtual lineup by getting a driver's license," said Christopher Calabrese, an attorney who focuses on privacy issues at the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Earlier this year, investigators learned that a double-homicide suspect named Rodolfo Corrales had moved to North Carolina. The FBI took a 1991 booking photo from California and compared it with 30 million photos stored by the motor vehicle agency in Raleigh.

    In seconds, the search returned dozens of drivers who resembled Corrales, and an FBI analyst reviewed a gallery of images before zeroing in on a man who called himself Jose Solis.

    A week later, after corroborating Corrales' identity, agents arrested him in High Point, southwest of Greensboro, where they believe he had built a new life under the assumed name. Corrales is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles later this month.

    "Running facial recognition is not very labor-intensive at all," analyst Michael Garcia said. "If I can probe a hundred fugitives and get one or two, that's a home run."

    Facial-recognition software is not entirely new, but the North Carolina project is the first major step for the FBI as it considers expanding use of the technology to find fugitives nationwide.

    So-called biometric information that is unique to each person also includes fingerprints and DNA. More distant possibilities include iris patterns in the eye, voices, scent and even a person's gait.

    FBI officials have organized a panel of authorities to study how best to increase use of the software. It will take at least a year to establish standards for license photos, and there's no timetable to roll out the program nationally.

    Calabrese said Americans should be concerned about how their driver's licenses are being used.

    Licenses "started as a permission to drive," he said. "Now you need them to open a bank account. You need them to be identified everywhere. And suddenly they're becoming the de facto law enforcement database."

    State and federal laws allow driver's license agencies to release records for law enforcement, and local agencies have access to North Carolina's database, too. But the FBI is not authorized to collect and store the photos. That means the facial-recognition analysis must be done at the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.

    "Unless the person's a criminal, we would not have a need to have that information in the system," said Kim Del Greco, who oversees the FBI's biometrics division. "I think that would be a privacy concern. We're staying away from that."

    Dan Roberts, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, added: "We're not interested in housing a bunch of photos of people who have done absolutely nothing wrong."

    Gone are the days when states made drivers' licenses by snapping Polaroid photos and laminating them onto cards without recording copies.

    Now states have quality photo machines and rules that prohibit drivers from smiling during the snapshot to improve the accuracy of computer comparisons.

    North Carolina's lab scans an image and, within 10 seconds, compares the likeness with other photos based on an algorithm of factors such as the width of a chin or the structure of cheekbones. The search returns several hundred photos ranked by the similarities.

    "We'll get some close hits, and we'll get some hits that are right on," said Stephen Lamm, who oversees the DMV lab.

    The technology allowed the DMV to quickly highlight 28 different photos of one man who was apparently using many identities. It also identified one person who, as part of a sex change, came in with plucked eyebrows, long flowing hair and a new name - but the same radiant smile.

    The system is not always right. Investigators used one DMV photo of an Associated Press reporter to search for a second DMV photo, but the system first returned dozens of other people, including a North Carolina terrorism suspect who had some similar facial features.

    The images from the reporter and terror suspect scored a likeness of 72 percent, below the mid-80s that officials consider a solid hit.

    Facial-recognition experts believe the technology has improved drastically since 2002, when extremely high failure rates led authorities to scrap a program planned for the entrances to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

    Lamm said investigators reviewing the galleries can almost always find the right photo, using a combination of the computer and the naked eye.

    Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, questioned whether the facial-recognition systems that were pushed after the Sept. 11 attacks are accurate or even worthwhile.

    "We don't have good photos of terrorists," Rotenberg said. "Most of the facial-recognition systems today are built on state DMV records because that's where the good photos are. It's not where the terrorists are."
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

  • #2
    Good, there's nothing wrong with doing it. Can someone explain to me how this "tracks people who have done nothing wrong". All it does is search databases, no tracking involved.
    In Memory of A Fallen Hero

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    • #3
      I would like to know more about exactly how the photos and information are prepared for scanning. I don’t like the idea that photos could be scanned at bulk to possibly/maybe make a match. The potential for abuse certainly exists…

      At the outset I don’t like how driver’s licenses have trended towards becoming citizen registries where the bulk of the information is accessible outside of the DMV. I genuinely wish they would only contain the minimum amount of information to determine if a driver is properly licensed.
      ****I am NOT a LEO, I am NOT a Lawyer, and I am NOT a Defendant****

      Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris.

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      • #4
        The potential for abuse affects everything. If done responsibly it will be an excellent program.

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        • #5
          I think that it would be a great asset.

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          • #6
            Unless they are using a DL match as the sole basis for an arrest, which I highly doubt, this really does not have the possibility of inconveniencing Joe Public.

            They're simply going to review the possible matches as a place to start for further investigation. They'll be able to rule out the non-badguys with similar facial features in a hurry.

            Comment


            • #7
              http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe...eum/index.html
              Last edited by Nobody; 10-15-2009, 01:09 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Nobody View Post
                driving is a privelege, and wanted fugitives should not be allowed to exercise that privelege - if anyone doesn't like that, then feel free to use public transportation, taxi's, or bum rides from friends (and pay cash for everything, and be self employed, and live off the grid)
                The DMV (I think) also does non Driver Identification cards and in NYS if you don't have a Drivers License you need to have another form of Identification such as an Official Card. They'd probably use those too.

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                • #9
                  how would they abuse this? They are looking for people who already have warrants for their arrest (PC has already been established for the arrest, before the DL photo's are used for anything). It doesn't really matter how they are scanned - the identification of the person whose DL photo is a possible match will still be verified against the identity of the person wanted for arrest prior to taking anyone to jail

                  driving is a privelege, and wanted fugitives should not be allowed to exercise that privelege - if anyone doesn't like that, then feel free to use public transportation, taxi's, or bum rides from friends (and pay cash for everything, and be self employed, and live off the grid)
                  I have to agree with Nobody here. of course I don't have enough knowledge to understand how it would be abused.

                  Wouldn't the same information be available if my plate was ran?
                  MDRDEP:

                  There are no stupid questions, but there sure are a lot of inquisitive idiots.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LINY View Post
                    The DMV (I think) also does non Driver Identification cards and in NYS if you don't have a Drivers License you need to have another form of Identification such as an Official Card. They'd probably use those too.
                    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_ZiPiXEv_Q_...0/****-off.jpg
                    Last edited by Nobody; 10-19-2009, 06:55 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nobody View Post
                      is it NYS law that an adult MUST have a NYS ID card? Every state (I believe) 'offers' these non-driver ID cards, but I'm not aware they are required

                      granted, living and functioning in society nowadays without a photo ID is a challenge (to put it mildly) but that is because we are living and functioning in a rapidly increasing population.
                      NYS is one of the 'stop and identify' states where you must show a Police Officer some form of Identification if the Officer demands it, meaning that either you have a license, or some form of picture identification that is trustworthy, such as the state ID cards.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JPSO Recruit View Post
                        Good, there's nothing wrong with doing it. Can someone explain to me how this "tracks people who have done nothing wrong". All it does is search databases, no tracking involved.
                        So you would not object to submitting DNA, retinal scans, good clear photo (front and profile) as well as finger and foot prints to a national database to be used for whatever reason those currently in power deem proper ??

                        To me it is creepy to retain DL photos then use them for stuff like this.

                        NYS is one of the 'stop and identify' states where you must show a Police Officer some form of Identification if the Officer demands it, meaning that either you have a license, or some form of picture identification that is trustworthy, such as the state ID cards.
                        So the state has a requirement that to walk free in public you have to submit a photo that is entered into a database that is used for whatever FBI deems ok ?? Shades of 1984 for sure.
                        Bill
                        Just pay your dues, and be quiet :-)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What cracks me up about this is that a lot of people out there think we run stuff like in CSI or some other shows. At the touch of a button we can match a face from a grainy security camera to a 20 year old DMV photo from some sort of national database, and realize that you just made an atm transaction four states over.
                          "You don't want the truth because, deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall... I have neither the time, nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it."

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by yellowreef View Post
                            What cracks me up about this is that a lot of people out there think we run stuff like in CSI or some other shows. At the touch of a button we can match a face from a grainy security camera to a 20 year old DMV photo from some sort of national database, and realize that you just made an atm transaction four states over.

                            Heh, my favorite was when they had an audio recording of the killer's vehicle pulling away from the crime scene, so they enter it into a database, and this software tells 'em the exact make and model of the car right down to the color.
                            "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - Orwell

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by yellowreef View Post
                              What cracks me up about this is that a lot of people out there think we run stuff like in CSI or some other shows. At the touch of a button we can match a face from a grainy security camera to a 20 year old DMV photo from some sort of national database, and realize that you just made an atm transaction four states over.
                              But it's on TV! It must be true!

                              /hate CSI.... Actors are horrible too.

                              Comment

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