American law enforcement agencies have created a massive facial recognition database. If you're an adult in the US, you might already be in it. According to a comprehensive report by the Center for Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, the law enforcement's database has 117 million American adults on file. The report says authorities used driver's license IDs from 26 states to build the database, which includes people who've never committed any kind of crime before. That's already a problem in and of itself, but it's compounded by the lack of oversight on how it's used.
The FBI maintains a huge database of more than 411m photos culled from sources including driver's licenses, passport applications and visa applications, which it cross-references with photos of criminal suspects using largely untested and questionably accurate facial recognition software. A study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released on Wednesday for the first time revealed the extent of the program, which had been queried several years before through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The GAO, a watchdog office internal to the US federal government, found that the FBI did not appropriately disclose the database's impact on public privacy until it audited the bureau in May. The office recommended that the attorney general determine why the FBI did not obey the disclosure requirements, and that it conduct accuracy tests to determine whether the software is correctly cross-referencing driver's licenses and passport photos with images of criminal suspects. The Department of Justice "disagreed" with three of the GAO's six recommendations, according to the office, which affirmed their validity.
The nation's top-level intelligence office, the Director of National Intelligence, wants to find "the most accurate unconstrained face recognition algorithm." A branch of the office, which oversees the nation's spy agencies, is holding a contest toward that end, with submissions due no later than 2pm ET June 15. "Have you developed software to identity faces in general web photographs? Can your software verify that a face in one photograph is the same as in another?" asks a posting on challenge.gov The goal of the Face Recognition Prize Challenge is to improve core face recognition accuracy and expand the breadth of capture conditions and environments suitable for successful face recognition.
A company that operates facial recognition systems in China has exposed the personal information of 2.5 million people after leaving a database unprotected. Facial recognition system showing a blue interface with a human head and biometrics data, with a grid of relevant points connected to facial features: used for survellaince, privacy control and identity tracking (Big Brother).Getty A company that operates facial recognition systems in China has exposed the personal information of 2.5 million people after leaving a database unprotected, it has emerged. It was discovered by Dutch cybersecurity researcher Victor Gevers, who works for the GDI Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to reporting security issues. He tweeted: "There is this company in China named SenseNets. They make artificial intelligence-based security software systems for face recognition, crowd analysis, and personal verification. And their business IP and millions of records of people tracking data is fully accessible to anyone."
The United States and 70 other nations are investing in voice recognition databases that will allow governments to identify criminals or suspects based on brief recordings. A leader in the development of "voice-prints" storage is Russia's Speech Technology Center, known as SpeechPro in the U.S. The company has developed the capability to tuck away millions of recorded voices that governments can later use to identify persons of interests. The system, called "VoiceGrid Nation," can match a recording to a database entry in only five seconds (based on a scan of 10,000 voices), with an accuracy of 90%. Dozens of countries have invested in the company's biometric technology, with the biggest markets in the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Asia. These include dictatorships, such as those of Belarus and Uzbekistan.