A ready-to-use facial recognition program unveiled by the FBI on Monday could turn millions of people with no criminal record into suspects of the law, civil liberties watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning.

The operation “will provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities,” a statement by the FBI said.

Al-Jazeera America reports:

[C]ivil liberties watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said the system poses a threat to the privacy of all Americans, including those with no criminal history.

EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for information on NGI in April. FBI documents they obtained showed that the facial recognition component of the system could include as many as 52 million digital images of faces by 2015, the group said.

Up to 4.3 million pictures taken for non-criminal purposes will also be added to the database, documents obtained by EFF showed. Mug shots will be combined with non-criminal facial images taken from employment records and background check databases, technology news website The Verge reported Monday.

Will the technology improve the quality of legitimate and necessary functions of law enforcement or be abused by authorities? Comment below.

— Posted by Donald Kaufman


If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.