Not that the viewers of cop shows for the last decade didn’t know this, but United States law enforcement shares resources. Especially when identification is needed, the “good guys with the guns” look through all sorts of databases for pictures of Americans looking for a match. Mug shots, driver’s licenses, internet…our faces are everywhere, and the government can find out if your face is in any picture, anytime if your face is already in one of these databases.
1 in 2, half or 50% of Americans fall into this category.
A study conducted by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology found that while the system does not sit with any one law enforcement entity, the information sharing has the effect of half of the country being in the system.
“Looking at the sum total of what we found, there have been no laws that comprehensively regulate face recognition technology, and there’s really no case law either,” Clare Garvie, an associate at the CPT, told Vocativ. “So we find ourselves having to rely on the agencies that are using that technology to rein it in. But what we found is that not every system — by a long shot — has a use policy.”
Meaning that with no laws governing the system as it stands, the entire network is open to abuse regardless of its usefulness in fighting crime and finding criminals.
That so many American adults are in at least one facial recognition database is largely due to the fact that at least 26 states, and likely more, share their Department of Motor Vehicles databases with the FBI, state police, or other law enforcement agencies, the study found. Compounded with that, police often have access to mugshot databases. Garvie’s study found that most law enforcement agencies don’t purge such records, even if the arrested suspect is found not guilty, unless a court orders it. The sole known exception is the Michigan State Police, which does expunge photos after a set amount of time….
“These systems are used on law-abiding Americans without their knowledge or consent in most cases,” Garvie said.
How that fits into a law and order society has yet to be determined. The law has not caught up to technology in this case. According to the study, a full quarter of law enforcement agencies in the United States have access to the system with a facial recognition center that has software to help them out.
The West Virginia Fusion Center, for example, a Charleston-based coalition of federal and local law enforcement, possesses software that matches individuals in video footage with a database of still photographs. Not only does it share information with the FBI, West Virginia State Police, and city and county departments, it may grant access to 77 other fusion centers across the country.
In a country where privacy is supposedly assured, law and order is a way of life, and search and seizure is supposed to be done only via warrant, this is terrifying. Who knows how such information and ability can be used and abused by authorities. And the source material isn’t social media so much as official government records.
From the Voactiv.com piece: