Ever since 9/11, the US’s domestic surveillance program has mushroomed. While there is no doubt that certain groups aim to harm people in the US, I believe we’ve moved a long way down a dangerous path in our fear of attack.

Once essential civil liberties are lost, regaining them is an enormously difficult, if not impossible task.

And now domestic surveillance has become so accepted that agencies engaging in this practice don’t even bother to deny or hide that they are doing it.

Report: FBI to Bring Lockheed Martin’s Facial Recognition Technology Nationwide

by Carl Franzen

The FBI plans to bring facial recognition technology nationwide in 2014 to help law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. to identify persons of interest, according to FBI sources, Nextgov reported.

The system will let agents upload photos or screen captures of unidentified persons of interest into a computer that will display the closest matches from a database of 10 million mug shots, according to Nextgov.

The system, which will begin testing in Michigan, Washington, Florida and North Carolina this winter, according to Nextgov, is just one component of the FBI’s so-called Next Generation Identification (NGI) effort, a $1 billion program contract awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2008 to radically upgrade the FBI’s fingerprints database, and to augment it with new biometrics information, including iris scans, voice recordings, palm prints and other detailed personal identification markers.

The FBI is surprisingly open about its plans to pursue this system, which it says it needs to complete to speed up the current “ten-print” fingerprint submissions system from “two hours to about 10 minutes on average,” ideally, hypothetically allowing agents to catch everyone ranging from roadside bombers in Iraq to masked bank robbers and child pornography suspects in the U.S.

The agency describes its plans in a fair amount of detail on the FBI website and in a publicly available presentation PDF.

Indeed, Nextgov’s, primary source is Nick Megna, a unit chief at the FBI’s criminal justice information services division. As the website reported in an article posted Friday:

Today, an agent would have to already know the name of an individual to pull up the suspect’s mug shot from among the 10 million shots stored in the bureau’s existing Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Using the new Next-Generation Identification system that is under development, law enforcement analysts will be able to upload a photo of an unknown person; choose a desired number of results from two to 50 mug shots; and, within 15 minutes, receive identified mugs to inspect for potential matches.

Slightly less forthcoming about the program is defense contractor Lockheed Martin. In an email to TPM, a Lockheed spokesperson confirmed that the Nextgov report accurately described NGI, noting that it is one of several companies working on the program, including Accenture, Global Science & Technology (GST), Innovative Management & Technology Services (IMTS), and MorphoTrak.

As the spokesperson wrote:

“NGI is a state-of-the-art biometric identification system that the FBI and law enforcement agencies are using to help keep Americans and their families safe…In addition to vastly improving the FBI’s fingerprint identification services, NGI will also provide identification capabilities associated with latent and rolled fingerprints, palm prints, and facial recognition. The NGI program also calls for a pilot study to assess iris identification capabilities…

NGI’s fingerprint identification capabilities went live earlier this year. We are making steady progress on the remaining portions of the system, and are developing NGI with a high degree of technical flexibility so that other biometric modalities can be incorporated in the future, if desired.”

In a March press release from the FBI announcing the initial operating ability of the new fingerprints system, which Lockheed Martin referred to TPM, the FBI said: “NGI provides automated fingerprint and latent search capabilities, electronic image storage, and electronic exchange of fingerprints to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal justice partners 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Upon completion, NGI will have the ability to process fingerprint transactions more effectively and accurately.”

Lockheed refused to provide the name of the facial recognition pilot program, but did reveal that there are several test activities “being implemented by the FBI independently of Lockheed Martin.”

Lockheed also would not confirm whether or not the facial recognition program would incorporate any 3D facial recognition from Animetrics, a New Hampshire-based company. In September 2010, Animetrics and Lockheed Martin were was awarded a U.S. government contract to “improve facial recognition accuracy.” (Animetrics is also behind an iPhone app that matches users to their celebrity likenesses, which has received mediocre ratings from users. “Saw this app is featured for law enforcement. Yea, good luck with that,” wrote one disgruntled user.)

As the blog Network World states: “Each piece of the FBI system ties together into a fairly alarming service for massive surveillance, identification and tracking.”

TPM has contacted the FBI and Animetrics about the NGI program and will update when we receive a response.

But it is also worth noting that several other major companies are working on similar technology, including Google and Facebook. The Atlantic recently investigated the work of PittPatt, a facial recognition software startup founded by alumni of Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College and acquired by Google in July. Facebook’s new facial recognition photo-tagging suggestion software was effectively outlawed by the German government in August, with the company being forced to delete already-collected data or face fines.

And yet, the technology itself may not be very effective at identifying people in the first place: A study of facial recognition technology commissioned by the Defense Department in 2010 found that despite being more accurate at identifying faces than humans, computer programs still exhibited “other-race effect,” that is, they experienced difficulty in correctly distinguishing individuals of races outside of those that predominated in the country where the software was developed.

“The [U.S.] government is interested in spotting people who might pose a danger. But they also don’t want to have too many false alarms and detain people who are not real risks.” Alice O’Toole, a professor in The University of Texas at Dallas’ School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and the lead investigator of the study, told the blog Space War back in September 2010.

Original post on talkingpointsmemo.com

40 Responses to “Facial Recognition and the FBI”

  1. If you believe in heaven and hell, and you preach about how Hollywood is satanic, I can only assume Christian.

  2. Two big names in the Civil Rights mvmt: MLK and Malcolm X. The latter was not letting his ass be passively brutalized.

  3. Since the war on error all supposed terrorist attacks were always said to be done by Al Qaeda. But recently the no-shame stream media now refer to them as Al Qaada style or type, & even Al Qaeda influenced or affiliated. If the IRA blew up a bomb here in the UK the media would probably say they were using Al Qaeda tactics.

  4. And how many of those people who were waterboarded made up information just to stop being The reason why should not be allowed is because the information is NOT accurate. bet there were actually NO lives saved from the waterboarding itself. Any information that came from the either came before or long after. If you honestly have any info, but I think you do, do you think stop you because you keep saying “I know”?

  5. dumali chickel says:

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  6. Severe Civil rights crimes are committed in Canada by authorities against citizens who try to use their constitutional civil right of not talking to them. This anti-democracy, authority attacks happen with lazer/tazer type guns which work through concrete walls of your home from outside or even the floor above. They rape women with these high power guns, also abuse their access to high ranking officials giving them one side of false story against citizen who questions their abuse of power.

  7. katanaga puge says:

    lo que hizo el che no era una guerra… era una revolucion, y no era un heroe, era un lider.

  8. They knew– persons of African descent struggled and even rebelled openly for freedom from the moment they reached our shores–along with Indians, Irish and German indentured servants when people were unfair. Rebellion and escaping to live in the West or with Indians or to Canada was the best they could do. Brother Malcolm and Doctor King inherited a tradition of civil struggle, the sixties was the right time for people to listen because everyone could see.

  9. We give them money to take advantage of them, it doesn’t take away from the fact that their religion is backwards.

  10. I love how you have a passion for improving human rights and animal rights. I always look up petitions you post on here!

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  12. Dare I say I didn’t like the book? Read it because a relative wouldn’t shut up about it until I did. It’s not terrible by any stretch but I struggled with what seemed to me like a fairly simplistic view of things – though maybe that was the point? When I finished it (a couple of months ago) I went on good reads to see what others had said and I couldn’t help but be struck by the fact that on the first 5 or 6 pages of reviews (I admit I didn’t look at the hundreds of pages) of all the people who rated it highly (and they were the majority) I noticed one black person. I know not everyone on GR has a photo – but about half did and all but one was white. Which is a symptom of what made me about the book – it felt a little too much like a white person pretending they understand being on the receiving end of racism. I don’t doubt the author’s motives or sincerity, I just think there are some stories some people can’t (or shouldn’t) tell. .

  13. Sorry, but I voted against Obama because I did not believe he was the Most Merciful Messiah like you do. I voted for McCain so Palin could get a decent chance in to give the Repubs some time).

  14. pachner baranton says:

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  15. They can’t extradite these terrorists because of breaching their human rights? As far as I’m concerned they aren’t humans, kill’em.

  16. di courth prelle says:

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  17. sch pedrichi says:

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    What It Means That Computers Can Tell These Smiles But You Can’tThe Atlantic
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  19. jkutchnows says:

    In Russia and Ukraine homophobia is rising. To talk about human rights in Eastern Europe means – to talk also about this. No more, no less.

  20. I hate it when super stalkers use satellite facial recognition to find out which I’m going to crash. Jfc, Avengers.

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  23. Stephanie Bodoni / Bloomberg:
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  29. almarzel den says:

    I would like to see facial recognition software for law enforcement. If it is not a violation of our privacy, then it goes both ways – –

  30. etzlatte woer says:

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  32. Marketing strategies are taking a new technological turn. A new marketing service has been developed by NEC which makes use of facial recognition to evaluate the age and gender of customers. This data, along with the dates and times that the customers visit the stores, is stored and evaluated to determine customer behavior and visit frequency. The analysis is then used to provide more customer-friendly sales that can boost the market share. NEC’s cloud computing technology provides the service in Japan and is relatively a low-end technology, as it requires only a PC and a video camera. The approximate cost of rigging this in stores is about $880 or 70,000 yen per month per store. Those retailers who have several stores can make use of this technology to analyze their customers’ attributes and enhance their sales strategies. The service can also detect customers who frequent multiple stores. NEC employs a face detection and comparison engine called NeoFace, which ranks top in tests by…

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  36. ING DIRECT is busting out all the stops on Facial recognition for doing banking !!! Are you kidding me !

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