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State Photo-ID Databases Mined By Police

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the hits-keep-coming dept.

Privacy 205

Rick Zeman writes "Showing once again that once a privacy door is opened every law enforcement agency will run through it, The Washington Post details how state drivers license photo databases are being mined by various LEOs in their states--and out. From the article: '[L]aw enforcement use of such facial searches is blurring the traditional boundaries between criminal and non-criminal databases, putting images of people never arrested in what amount to perpetual digital lineups. The most advanced systems allow police to run searches from laptop computers in their patrol cars and offer access to the FBI and other federal authorities. Such open access has caused a backlash in some of the few states where there has been a public debate. As the databases grow larger and increasingly connected across jurisdictional boundaries, critics warn that authorities are developing what amounts to a national identification system — based on the distinct geography of each human face.'"

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205 comments

state dmv records mined by police (2, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44032561)

every time someone gives a description of a getaway car, the cops look it up in the state DMV database. my car's data is in there. my privacy is violated daily because my car might be coming up in searches

Re:state dmv records mined by police (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032589)

Next they'll come to your house and ask you if you've recently acquired any money because your car matched a description and then proceed to search your house for said money.

Re:state dmv records mined by police (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032889)

No, it isn't. Your car's description is in there explicitly for this purpose. Your picture originally was only for matching licence to holder so that it's clear someone isn't giving someone else's licence, not for performing (digital, virtual) lineups--that's a later "convenient" stretch of meaning not originally there.

It's the stretching that's the fundamental problem. That, together with turning something that's originally an enabler into a weapon against your person far beyond holding you accountable for your infractions against the road rules, if any.

Re:state dmv records mined by police (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033063)

Good! Privacy is racist.

Re:state dmv records mined by police (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#44033173)

B.S. they don't harass people on false positives for that shit. They just see what cars are in the area to look for further leads. I don't trust some software only cop who's never been on the street to run this program and you know its going to end up the Beuro of "wheres waldo" and their going to be digging into everyones lives. Harrassing people and arresting them for whatever floats their boat.

This face recognition BS is to far down the slippery slope. What next. I deserve to be left alone. I would rather a thousand murders to go free. Those murderers of YOU are not my problem to deal with.

Stop murdering our privacy. I can handle myself just fine without it.

How about lets start with one law, one rule. Don't impinge upon someone else's LIFE LIBERTY OR PROPERTY. Not for your gain or protection or anything. You need to be responsible for that shit.

Re:state dmv records mined by police (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033243)

"Those murderers of YOU are not my problem to deal with."

That's a great point. After you die, you really don't care about why. You have no problem with killers running loose as long as they don't kill you. If they do kill you, then you don't really care.

Brilliant I say.

Re:state dmv records mined by police (1, Insightful)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#44033291)

I don't need to live in a perfectly safe and sanitary society. Not my problem. Stop wrecking my society and culture. Learn self defense. Make good friends and networks. Build community. Or live responsibly.

Stop creating dystopian bullshit. It is not as effective as your OVERLORDS would lead you to believe.

Re:state dmv records mined by police (1)

fazey (2806709) | about a year ago | (#44033371)

I think you are looking for the sheepdog mentality. This is why a CHL should be covered under the second amendment.

Re:state dmv records mined by police (5, Insightful)

Nickodeimus (1263214) | about a year ago | (#44033593)

The problem is not that it doesn't make things better. The problem is where, how, and when it will be abused. (It's 100% certain that there will be no if, because we all know that the government already gathers as many reins of power to itself as it can grasp.)

This is the concept that most people don't recognize. Most people say\think that its all good to protect the children or catch the terrorists. But what happens if you are in that database and some government entity unlawfully decides that your class of people, whatever it may be, needs to be disenfranchised, persecuted, or even killed off?

People will almost always say that those things can never happen here in the US. It happens in other places in the world but never here. The reason it doesn't happen here, for the most part, is because we have been, and must be, ever vigilant for these kinds of abuses and crush them when they start down that proverbial slippery slope.

Don't open the door to the possibility of it happening and it never will. By allowing this type of scenario to occur we are definitely opening the door.

Re:state dmv records mined by police (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#44033323)

To further my point. Look at how many murders happen in prisons, or the military. Shit happens. No totalitarian state will fix it.

Freedom and liberty increases your own safety. It is the #1 benefactor in any society. It is why America was great for a 100 years. It never was perfect. But it was great.

That reminds me (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#44032567)

My license renewal is coming up. Time to grow a beard and dye my hair.

Re:That reminds me (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44032773)

Yes, and have the distance between you eyes adjusted, lower your nose, change the bridge of your nose, and sink your cheek bones, flatten your forehead, pin your ears back, and lower them as well, change your jaw line. Photo recognition software could care less about hair color and beards.

Re:That reminds me (4, Funny)

jrmcc (703725) | about a year ago | (#44032977)

Why not - Amanda Bynes did it...

Re:That reminds me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033103)

Plenty of quarter pounders will have a similar result.

Re:That reminds me (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44033235)

Nothing some prosthetic sfx makeup couldn't work around.

Re:That reminds me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033417)

Photo recognition software could care less about hair color and beards.

Yes, but how much less could it care?

Re:That reminds me (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about a year ago | (#44033423)

"Yes, and have the distance between you eyes adjusted, lower your nose, change the bridge of your nose, and sink your cheek bones, flatten your forehead, pin your ears back, and lower them as well, change your jaw line."

One might think expensive, cosmetic surgery is the only option when mouthing off to a cop can net you the same results. Unfortunately, they probably take before and after pictures...

Re:That reminds me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033185)

Is that you, Dr. Kimble?

Welcome to 1984 ... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44032577)

These guys are really trying hard to make sure 1984 and Brave New World actually come true.

Once they have it, they'll misuse it, and tell you it's for your own good.

Freedom has gone out of fashion, and now we're stuck with the surveillance society.

We knew this. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032795)

It's rather important to understand why this is in fact abuse, and not acceptable law enforcement behaviour.

I say the pictures were ment to provide easy verification that the driver's licence you're holding is in fact yours. Matching against databases was not in the original charter, so to speak, and in fact storing the pictures at all beyond display on the licence itself isn't either. It is this stretching of use beyond the original what is so deceitful and ultimately damaging to society.

This quite regardless of who does it (our watchers, for our own good, of course), with what intentions (the very best, for our own good, of course), the direct results (LE is happy with their new toy, for a while), and so on.

We probably ought to embrace the principle that data can only ever be used for the purpose it was gathered for, and nothing else. This seems, perhaps is rather draconian, but is the only way to be clear and honest about it, making it a better option than any of the alternatives.

Re:We knew this. (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44032855)

We probably ought to embrace the principle that data can only ever be used for the purpose it was gathered for, and nothing else.

I agree, but the more likely outcome is that they decide that everyone needs to submit to this kind of identification so they're on file. If you don't have a drivers license, you still need to be cataloged in case you commit a crime.

School kids will have their biometrics cataloged under the guise of protecting them, and then that information will move into the police database so that as they become older we can be sure to catch them if they ever commit a crime.

I see this getting far worse, not better. Much much worse.

Re:We knew this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033121)

We probably ought to embrace the principle that data can only ever be used for the purpose it was gathered for, and nothing else.

I agree, but the more likely outcome is that they decide that everyone needs to submit to this kind of identification so they're on file.[...]
I see this getting far worse, not better. Much much worse.

Yes, if we do nothing. In the American model it's the "better educated voter" that calls the government to heel. If that doesn't work, it's time to put it down. So far, the voter is barely educated and fails to call anything to heel. While the government keeps on growing new agencies, even giving rise to entire branches of industry, essentially devoted to undermining the rights of the individual. Time for the American People to get back on the job.

Re:We knew this. (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44033281)

Saying that these days is tantamount to treason.

Re:We knew this. (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44033273)

Where were you last week? They already ran iris scans [slashdot.org] for an elementary school in Florida citing is was to ensure that child rides belongs on which bus.

Re:We knew this. (-1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44033031)

... And yet Tea Partiers, Clarance Thomas, and conservatives in general get ridiculed when they question things like Obamacare, gun control, etc which all clearly go against the intent of the 1st, 2nd, and 10th amendments. I guess the "principle of the thing" really is important sometimes.

Re:We knew this. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033293)

From where I sit, the tea partiers are a bunch of extremely stupid, selfish, and short-sighted teabaggers. Sort-of the political equivalent of tin foil mad hatters. Hysterical and loud, but not the teeniest bit of funny.

Of course, they'll happily brand me a commie once they learn I'm from faraway yurp, where by and large the medical system is socialist yet costs half of what it does in the USoA without Obamacare. On things like gun control I can't really be arsed to care, you sort it out. But demanding the freedom to get crippled by medical costs should anything happen because you can't afford regular insurance, when less liberated countries do provide medical care to everybody and manage to do so without the crippling cost, that's just fscking stupid. Criminally so, especially for self-identifying christians.

The thing with most politics in the USoA is that it isn't about your particular stance, but about whose side you're on, and then for great bashing of the other side. Again from here, it's indiscernible wtf you're on about, except that it involves lots of shouting and absolutely no brains. The tea partiers are a painfully worse lot in a bad bunch.

In that respect they're experts in making themselves deservedly unheard over their own din regardless of the merits of their points, if any. Experts in doing their points a disservice to the detriment of all, if you will. Which, by and large, isn't a bad thing given what can be discerned from their issues.

Re:We knew this. (0)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44033493)

The problem is that European countries are not at all the same as the US, because you dont have a 10th amendment which explicitly gives a lot of lattitude to the states. Obamacare not only taxes something that has never really been taxed before ("just being alive"), it also takes control of something that has never been considered a governmental role, much less a federal one.

You cant just say "screw precedent, the constitution, and 230 years of history, my idea is a good one".

The thing with most politics in the USoA is that it isn't about your particular stance, but about whose side you're on,

Its ironic you would say that after your disparaging remarks about people identifying as tea party, and your generally disparaging remarks towards conservatives in general. How have you NOT just made this an "us vs them"?

Re:We knew this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033545)

Are you seriously citing a supreme court justice for whom it was newsworthy when he attempted a sentence during arguments as some source of common sense?

Well -- I seriously hope you did not -- [nytimes.com]

When fascism comes to America ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032821)

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

-Sinclair Lewis

Re:Welcome to 1984 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032843)

If it was all on paper, and the police went through by hand, would it be okay with you then? Or if someone working at the DMV happened to glance at the info the police had on current cases, would that be okay? Or is it just that you don't want a computer doing it?

Maybe it's just me, but I feel as if it was done by hand no one would be objecting.

Re:Welcome to 1984 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033199)

The argument to that is that going through every license in the state (assuming the state is known) by hand would be prohibitively time intensive and would generate too large a suspect pool. The system wouldn't be abused (or at least not as much) because it wouldn't be worth it. If they're going through it looking for a specific name and calling up the photo id as part of an arrest warrant, that's okay, as they've already got extremely narrow parameters.

Re:Welcome to 1984 ... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44033301)

1 DMV employee is not the same as 50 different DMV employees in 50 different states being able to do this.

Re:Welcome to 1984 ... (5, Insightful)

CKW (409971) | about a year ago | (#44032849)

> 1984

Is infinite and open access to information the core of "what's wrong" with society in 1984? Or is it the fact that the citizens have no control over their government, no freedom of speach, etc?

What's the technological difference between

- all citizens each day looking at photos of people wanted by the police for what we consider crimes, and calling the local detachment when we recognize someone
- a computer doing the above
- citizens calling the KGB because their neighbour said something snarky about the state
- a computer doing the above

> Brave New World

And I quote: "The vast majority of the population is unified under the World State, an eternally peaceful, stable global society in which goods and resources are plentiful (because the population is permanently limited to no more than two billion people) and everyone is happy."

I strongly object to warrantless wiretapping, and I definitely want tons of checks and balances, and I want my elected representatives to share my values.

That doesn't mean that "databases" are inherently bad, or can't help us create a more effective just society. Like all tools, it depends on how you use them. Ever read "The Golden Age" by John C. Wright, or any of the Polity novels by Neal Asher?

Re:Welcome to 1984 ... (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44033009)

The core problem of information in 1984 is that it is completely malleable by the party. Black literally becomes white at a party member's whim.

Re:Welcome to 1984 ... (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#44033129)

And I quote: "The vast majority of the population is unified under the World State, an eternally peaceful, stable global society in which goods and resources are plentiful (because the population is permanently limited to no more than two billion people) and everyone is happy."

Yea, it's not actually a utopia, it's a dystopia. If you had read a little further from the Wikipedia plot description, you would have seen the great cost to people for this Brave New World:

Natural reproduction has been done away with and children are created, 'decanted' and raised in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centres, where they are divided into five castes (which are further split into 'Plus' and 'Minus' members) and designed to fulfill predetermined positions within the social and economic strata of the World State. Fetuses chosen to become members of the highest castes, 'Alpha' and 'Beta', are allowed to develop naturally while maturing to term in "decanting bottles", while fetuses chosen to become members of the lower castes ('Gamma', 'Delta', 'Epsilon') are subjected to in situ chemical interference to cause arrested development in intelligence or physical growth. ... Members of lower castes are not unique but are instead created using the Bokanovsky process which enables a single egg to spawn (at the point of the story being told) up to 96 children and one ovary to produce thousands of children. ... People of these castes make up the majority of human society, and the production of such specialized children bolsters the efficiency and harmony of society, since these people are deliberately limited in their cognitive and physical abilities, as well as the scope of their ambitions and the complexity of their desires, thus rendering them easier to control. All children are educated via the hypnopaedic process, which provides each child with caste-appropriate subconscious messages to mold the child's lifelong self-image and social outlook to that chosen by the leaders and their predetermined plans for producing future adult generations.

To maintain the World State's Command Economy for the indefinite future, all citizens are conditioned from birth to value consumption ... buy a new item instead of fixing the old one, because constant consumption, and near-universal employment to meet society's material demands, is the bedrock of economic and social stability for the World State. Beyond providing social engagement and distraction in the material realm of work or play, the need for transcendence, solitude and spiritual communion is addressed with the ubiquitous availability and universally endorsed consumption of the drug soma. ... The hypnopaedically inculcated affinity for the State-produced drug, as a self-medicating comfort mechanism in the face of stress or discomfort, thereby eliminates the need for religion or other personal allegiances outside or beyond the World State.

Re:Welcome to 1984 ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033065)

It is funny that you mention Brave New World. That is widely regarded as a classic of Western Literature. Yet A similar author who had much the same conclusion as Aldus Huxely(sp) is widely regarded as a lunatic and locked in jail now. Just reading his manifesto is likely to cause you to be looked at askance and called a cook. His name was Ted Kaczynski. Every single Newspaper (thought control organization) called his manifesto an incoherent work of a lunatic. Disregarding the fact he killed a few people, The MSP can not ever allow his thesis to be considered seriously. It is always looked on with mockery. My thoughts are that if it had been written 50 years earlier (perhapes in a less controlled society) it too would have been a classic.

Some thoughts are just too dangerous to be expressed out loud.

Well I am going back to watch T.V. and drink some of my favorite alcoholic beverage. It helps to keep my mind off the utter meaningless of my life in the world i live in today.

Re:Welcome to 1984 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033287)

His name was Ted Kaczynski. Every single Newspaper (thought control organization) called his manifesto an incoherent work of a lunatic. Disregarding the fact he killed a few people, The MSP can not ever allow his thesis to be considered seriously. It is always looked on with mockery. My thoughts are that if it had been written 50 years earlier (perhapes in a less controlled society) it too would have been a classic.

Disregarding it calls for killing people, his manifesto is just another crazy Luddite creed.

vote them out of office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032581)

and write them telling them you're doing so and why.

it's the only real illusion of power us 'Merkins are given.

Re:vote them out of office (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44032797)

You can vote cops out of office? Who Knew!?

Re:vote them out of office (1)

ArtemaOne (1300025) | about a year ago | (#44032957)

Cops are hired by the Mayor, but Sheriffs are elected officials with jurisdiction over city police.

Re:vote them out of office (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44033077)

You might be able to vote a Mayor or a Sheriff out of office.

But you can't vote a patrolman or a deputy or a detective out of office.
The top is replaceable. But largely powerless.

Re:vote them out of office (3, Funny)

reboot246 (623534) | about a year ago | (#44033099)

Do you really know what a merkin is?

hrm (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year ago | (#44032583)

Though I do not agree with law enforcement being able to access everyone's information for identification purposes, I do think that this is not very different from being pulled in for a line up other than the fact that with a line up, you are at least aware of what's happening.

Then you'll need to think this through again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032991)

You get pulled in for lineups because they have a reason to suspect you: You've been in similar situations or you were close to the scene and of suitable description.

That's not why your picture is on your driver's licence. That is to easily match you to your licence so you get awarded the privilege of driving, which you might lose for abusing the privilege. The mere fact that the data exists isn't enough; there's a reason it was gathered and that reason needs to be honoured. Or you get situations like this one, where that privilege of driving becomes a convenient equivalent of a mugshot. Everyone's a potential criminal, baby.

It is a betrayal of the public's trust that the state won't abuse the data it demands--ostensibly to be able to do its job, but apparently it's idle enough that it keeps up cooking this sort of malarky. In that sense, having a state- or nationwide database of driver's licence pictures is already going too far. And lo and behold, it does indeed get abused simply because it's there. It's LE running loose unchecked. Back in the day we restricted them for very clear reasons. And now?

In Capitalist U$A (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032591)

the Government watches you.

Capitalism form of fascism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032929)

I have a kinda wacky uncle in Berkeley, CA, and that's what he says. I'm starting to see his point.

The ironic thing is that he's a self made millionaire.

quick, everyone grow a beard & wear thick glas (1)

beltsbear (2489652) | about a year ago | (#44032603)

This does not stop facial recognition but it does make it work less accurately. Major changes in beard style or glasses will not help a facial recognition systems accuracy.

Re:quick, everyone grow a beard & wear thick g (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44032725)

This does not stop facial recognition but it does make it work less accurately. Major changes in beard style or glasses will not help a facial recognition systems accuracy.

Yes, they will. As weaknesses in facial recognition systems get discovered, they will get patched. Soon it won't matter if you grow or shave your facial hair, whether you dye or bleach your skin, or whatever.

Re:quick, everyone grow a beard & wear thick g (1, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44032809)

Yes, they will. As weaknesses in facial recognition systems get discovered, they will get patched. Soon it won't matter if you grow or shave your facial hair, whether you dye or bleach your skin, or whatever.

And, really, at this rate they'd just make it illegal for you to significantly alter your appearance without registering with the authorities.

Once the State decides it's they're right to watch everything you do, attempting to dodge that must clearly be a sign of bad intent. Clearly an honest person wouldn't be doing this.

Oddly enough, if we tried to pass a law that says everything an officer of the law does is to be recorded and made public, they'd be up in arms about their privacy.

I wish this were still tongue in cheek: (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032635)

Your papers please.

Re:I wish this were still tongue in cheek: (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44032753)

I wish this were still tongue in cheek: Your papers please.

Bah! We don't need your stinking papers! We've got it all digitally now. You were scanned and catalogued from birth.

Within the State It's Legitimate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032663)

Its not a matter of accused / not accused, civil / criminal - NJ requires photo ID and DL to allow police to quickly identify fraudulent documentation: online photos should match the pic on the license.
Also used when trying to locate someone - criminal, lost, whatever: picture is handy to start ID process.
Wasn't photo ID required for stated to get federal highway money somewhere along the line? "Uniform" ID act or whatever?

Re:Within the State It's Legitimate (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#44032817)

You may be thinking about George Bush’s REAL ID act. The US currently has over 50 different standards for photo id. The idea is to get to a single standard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REAL_ID_Act [wikipedia.org]

I am on the fence with this. If we are going to have a ID card it should be useful. But I do want strong oversight so it won’t be abused.

Re:Within the State It's Legitimate (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44033037)

"I am on the fence with this. If we are going to have a ID card it should be useful. But I do want strong oversight so it won’t be abused." In that case 50 individuals is better then a unilateral decider.

Re:Within the State It's Legitimate (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#44033247)

I don’t think that is the case here. Here is a question – what is the best way to avoid a strong tyrant?

One option is to make centralized government ineffective. That was America’s first choice with the Continental Congress. There are two problems with this. The first is that you have an ineffective government. The second is that people will always be looking for a way around the issue.

The second option – and the one I prefer, is to have a strong effective government with a small well defined domain and with strong independent oversight.

While we have 50 different states this does not mean we have 50 different individuals looking at what is happening – it means there is a hodge-podge of standards – and as any good programmer knows, if there is a hodge-podge of standards they can be hacked.

  One state allows illegal immigrants to get driver’s license. Another uses consumer grade laser printers as a cost saving tool. Do any of them care, or know, when the FBI, NSA or the sheriff the county over does a drag on their data? When is it o.k. to pull a driver’s license? When the person is a suspect? What if the suspect is the hot girl next door? (There was a local case on this.)

Which is why I am on the fence about this, but leaning towards it. I like my privacy, but I suspect I would have more privacy if there were one standard and limit agencies to monitor instead of over 50.

Re:Within the State It's Legitimate (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44033325)

Civics is not Programming and you pretty much lose any footing at that point. The entire reason we have 50 individual states is to enjoy variation in law. The Founding Fathers did not want to 'globalize' all of it, it only leads to abuse. On issues of civil rights, constitutionality, i like a strong Federal, but beyond that our law specifically leaves power to the States. I like things compartmentalized when it comes to ruling over 350 million humans. Its ok if a few people 'hack', its better then putting a boot to the neck of everyone.

Ben Franklin Mad Libs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032669)

They who can give up essential dignity to obtain a little temporary orgasm, deserve neither dignity nor orgasms.

Shocking details to come! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032673)

Information given to the government for purposes of identification used for identification by government.

At least they won't be picking on the "brown man" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032675)

Illegal Aliens can't get a drivers license... so they are safe from these photo searches...

Facial Recog not as great as people think (5, Informative)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#44032701)

Ignoring the legal ramifications of this (for now)...

Facial Recognition is neat, I'll give it that. BUT it's not as accurate as people think. Against a small sample set (hundreds) OR with very solid source pics (both A and B) it's decent. But between poor surveillance images and the "margin of error" settings on the software you can end up with lots of false positives.

Add that to the huge DMV databases across the country, you're going to get a LOT of false positives. Sometimes too much data is worse than too little. Imagine showing all 30 matches of VERY VERY similar people to a witness who's already nervous enough. I know the cops already show them handfuls of similar pics: but the "similar" pics might be "chubby white-skinned guy" and not "chubby white-skinned guys that looks REALLY REALLY REALLY similar"

All of this noise is going to cause a headache. Even just adjoining states, you're going to have close enough hits. So what, you're going to have to investigate them? If you're basing off a picture you can't just say "Well he's 30miles away so let's consider him but NOT that guy who's 40miles away"

Sure you might say "Well we'll factor criminal background into this." But if you're basing on a criminal record, then well, why not just use the mug shots?

Re:Facial Recog not as great as people think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032893)

The unfortunate solution to this quandary is: "Hire more LEO's"

Re:Facial Recog not as great as people think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032907)

That's the fucking problem with it. False positives up the ass can screw over innocent people.

Not as good as the POLICE think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032939)

I know it's not reliable. You know it's not reliable. We know it's not reliable. Whether or not the police know it's unreliable -- or can at a minimum be convinced of that in court after they've dragged me away to prison because I sort of look like someone else -- is a different matter entirely.

Re:Not as good as the POLICE think... (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44032975)

I think its fairly obvious the police know its not reliable.

Can you name even one CONVICTION where the only evidence was an automated photo match?
Can you name even one ARREST where the only basis was an automated photo match?

Re:Not as good as the POLICE think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033179)

Convictions are never based upon on point of fact. But as for arrests, and I'll add detainment, I believe you have a good point.

Re:Not as good as the POLICE think... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44033625)

The problem is that, just like DNA, the police get lazy and simply round up everyone who matches. Those people can then eliminate themselves from the investigation by providing an alibi. Being arrested tends to look bad though, especially if you are arrested for something particularly nasty. The cops don't give a shit though, they just want an easy life and higher solved rate.

Re:Facial Recog not as great as people think (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44032949)

This.
The false positive rate simply makes FR useless for identifying any Joe Random from a street scene.
You'd be surprised how often FR will match males to females and totally different looking people who happen to have similar measurements.

However, if a security cam at a bank robbery can facially match 300 different people to the crook, one of whom is Joe Random, and Joe has a record of robbery, you can be fairly certain Joe floats to the top of the list of people of interest.

It would be telling if every person in the database could request to know exactly how many times their records were a hit on ANY search.
You could then compare that to the number of times you were actually contacted by police.

Re:Facial Recog not as great as people think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033639)

This.

What?

Re:Facial Recog not as great as people think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033007)

Great, more people hauled into jail because of false positives. What can possibly go wrong?

Captcha: benefit

Re:Facial Recog not as great as people think (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44033083)

Signal-to-noise issues have their own specialists that handle that sort of thing. Its a pretty obvious need in the Information Age.

Re:Facial Recog not as great as people think (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#44033613)

What happens when they do a few simple joins and find all drivers that match some profile that are also associated with cars that also happened to be scanned by speed/red light/traffic cameras in the area of some crime?

Re:Facial Recog not as great as people think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033655)

You think this is a problem to Guilty until Proven Innocent mentality behind these databases? Say they put in a picture of a 'wanted' individual into a database of all Americans and get 1 million matches... They will probably say "Oh now we need to build a camp that can accommodate 1 million people, we will move all the matches in there, and sort them out until we produce the true individual." Here is a hint: Some may never return!

You don't get it (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44032703)

Privacy? No, privacy is only for the government.

Lots of false positives here (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44032727)

The state of the art in Facial Recognition software has a long way to go.
At best it can be used to give the police a list of people to look at, and certainly not a list of people to arrest.

There is a lot of false positives. I've tried several off the shelf packages, as well as the FR built into Google's Picasa. (surprisingly good).
Most of these have significant problems of false positives. My sisters look nothing alike, yet two of the commercial products and
Picasa always confuse them, presumably based on facial measurement.

A great deal of the false positives would be weeded out by the police just looking at the pictures, People are so much better at this than
machines.

The only abuse of this I can see is if you are summoned to appear or hauled in kicking and screaming based ONLY on some
automated FR software match. But FR will probably NEVER achieve the reliability standard of a fingerprint, let alone DNA.

So I feel confident that such pictorial drag-netting wouldn't be allowed by the courts. *Cough*. Sure I do.

That is why you can't wear glasses (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032749)

That is why you can't wear glasses when you have your photo taken...

I thought this was pretty much common knowledge...

It use to be that if you needed glasses, they wanted you to wear your glasses for the photo so you looked how you looked normally...

Ever since they went RealID (IE National Digital ID System) you are not allowed to wear glasses... that is for the facial recognition database..

Re:That is why you can't wear glasses (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44032997)

That is why you can't wear glasses when you have your photo taken..

/me: looks at drivers licence and Passport Photo.
Notices glasses worn in both, and both are very recent.
Calls bullshit on you

Re:That is why you can't wear glasses (1)

suutar (1860506) | about a year ago | (#44033117)

Varies state by state. Mine required me to take off my glasses. *shrug*

Re:That is why you can't wear glasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033349)

Country + State / Province or it didn't happen.

Re:That is why you can't wear glasses (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44033621)

Washington state.
In Washington, and actually in most states, if your license says prescription lenses then you have to wear them
for your photo, othewise you have a choice. No glasses rules at all for Passports, other than no dark sunglasses.

How is this surprising? (0)

MarioMax (907837) | about a year ago | (#44032759)

Seriously, I have to ask how anyone is surprised at all by this. I pretty much wrote it off as an expectation that LEOs would be doing this routinely. And why wouldn't they?

Re:How is this surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032899)

And just what is supposed to be wrong with it?

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44033101)

The police arent supposed to be MINING for crime. They have quite enough on the surface they arent handling properly.

Is anyone really surprised? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032775)

This is another case of tech and computers automating and making something that was acceptable unacceptable.

Having a cop follow your car around without a warrant? Acceptable. Having a cop put a GPS tracker on your car without a warrant? Unacceptable.

Having someone sit on a street corner and write down every license plate number that goes by, acceptable. Putting a camera there and doing it automatically? Unacceptable (to me but sadly I just have to deal with it)

Pulling the DL info of every 6'2" male with red hair in YourTown and manually comparing to a photo? Acceptable. Comparing that same photo automatically against a database of everyone in the USA, unacceptable.

Many other examples. It comes down to things that were manpower limited before so they were very hard to abuse suddenly becoming trivial.

Re:Is anyone really surprised? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44033115)

Your last sentence nails it. Possibility for abuse is way too high to allow government that much latitude.

Welcome to the police state of the US of A (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032791)

Well, guys. You voted your politicians into office yourselves ;)

Licenses sold (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032819)

I noted from the article, that there was a single company collecting this information, and besides the LE, I wondered who else is buying/getting the information. I remember a few years ago in my state, we were notified that we had to 'opt-out' or our driver's license info would be sold to mailing lists and I still have to 'opt-out' every time I renew my license. google: 'drivers license opt out mailing lists' for some interesting info.
I could see companies buying this info, and using the security cameras, tracking where you go & what you buy. Look at it as an expansion of the 'buyers loyalty cards' programs that currently exist.
At one time, I considered 'Enemy of the State' to be paranoia, but now I'm seeing it as prophetic.

The IRS recently proved abuse happens (4, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#44032841)

The IRS targeting tea party organizations for scrutiny proves that abuse happens today and will continue to happen as long as law enforcement has access to private personal information. Think how many times in your life someone has been exonerated after spending years in jail for crimes they didn't commit. It is an outright lie for anyone to say personal private information will not be abused. It is being abused now and that will continue. No matter what the President says, your information is not safe or secure and you can easily become a completely innocent target.

Re:The IRS recently proved abuse happens (4, Interesting)

PracticalM (1089001) | about a year ago | (#44033399)

Except that the IRS targeting of tea party organization was also accompanied by targeting of organizations with Progressive in their name. And more left organizations were actually denied tax exempt status (which isn't hard because no tea party organizations were denied tax exempt status). And the IRS guy in charge was a Bush appointee. And Bush era IRS targeted liberal churches that dared to mention there was an election happening at the same time that conservative churches were beating the drums to elect Bush. And really the tragedy is that we let any groups that are not 100% dedicated to social welfare claim tax exempt status at all and/or hide their donors.

Love how conservatives continually claim to be persecuted and the facts tend to disagree.

Re:The IRS recently proved abuse happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033449)

Deny, Deny, Deny you do not have to deny to cause damage only introduce enough delay in the process to nullify the outcome.

This is what I have to consider (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032903)

Now this is what I have to consider if I want to apply for a driver's license? Choosing between the privilege of travelling and being a false positive in some FBI chase?

That's why I ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44032965)

...always wear my Richard Nixon mask when I drive around.

Oh, & always comment as Anonymous Coward...

Little of this is new (3, Interesting)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about a year ago | (#44033089)

Amazing how people seem to think that any of this is new and the outrage this is causing.

This, and other technology being recently being "outed" has been around since the early-mid 2000's. How do I know? I wrote a lot of it while working for a provider of software for public safety and law enforcement. It isn't secret - you can go to their website and read the features the software provides. Or, you can read any of the LE magazines out there to learn what the various public safety software providers are, in fact, providing to police departments across the country.

Facial recognition was still in its early evolution when we looked at it back in, I believe, 2005-2007. When I left in 2009, we still had not integrated facial recognition into our desktop software (and, we we a leading provider) - let alone mobile software - it just wasn't ready. Other vendors did provide OCR to work with cameras that could read a license plate into software that would then look up the license plate in NCIC and the local DMV. Some states allowed more judicious use when querying the DMV. But, access to NCIC and the criminal justice information systems required probable cause to conduct a search. Each query was logged and, if questioned, the person making the request better have had a valid reason to have conducted the search. A case in point - it is well known that Phila. Traffic and Parking Authority uses OCR scanning to looking up scofflaws by scanning the plates of parked vehicles. Are they hitting the DMV or just a parking violation database managed by the city? That, I am not sure.

However, whenever someone is/was arrested and booked, their images, prints, tattoo information, etc, was placed into our database - instantly searchable by keyword for the generation of a line up. Most photos weren't suitable for facial recognition back then. Traffic analysis is not new either. Our case management system would allow associations to be derived based on information reported in an incident report or booking report. By following the trail, other potential suspects could be quickly discovered. I can see how this capability could be used with phone call meta-data. Was it done? Maybe. But, if it did, it required a warrant.

As for facial recognition - it's possible that today's software is ready to process DMV photos. Some states were requiring that images pass certain checks (via software) before being allowed to be submitted into the system But, I am not sure they can, legally, request those images for retention on their local systems. If it's legal now (at least in PA), I would be highly surprised.

Perhaps, someone currently working in the field, could clarify the current state regarding access to NCIC, DMV and similar systems?

Re:Little of this is new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033577)

Amazing how people seem to think that any of this is new and the outrage this is causing.

This, and other technology being recently being "outed" has been around since the early-mid 2000's.

That's cool. But it's not really relevant. What is relevant is that the public now realises it and has to come to terms with it, as in decide whether this is something we want our benevolent watchers and overlords with pathological habits of secrecy and evading of oversight to have.

In fact, since it's been with us so long, this discussion and search for guiding principles for those who would watch and govern us ostensibly for our own good is long, long overdue. What the government ought to have done is start the discussion themselves. That failing is a breach of our trust. That and all the other things they've done then deliberately kept secret, citing national security, but in reality wishing to not have to engage with the public as to how far they could go.

Why is this news?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033189)

Off coarse the government is using your Real ID (tm) photo for facial recognition. Why the fuck would't they? Really does this surprise any fucking one. I mean seriously were you suddenly time warped to the present from 1940? The new world Order is all about total control and tracking of the individual from the cradle to the grave. Sure there are still places in the world where you can eeek out your life without being given a number, but those places are systematically being bombed (Bad Terrorists).

Seriously who the fuck is surprised by this????????

If you are willing to get a DL, and get a social security card, you are surely willing to give up your guns and your life when the government calls for it. I mean isn't freedom all about obeying the orders of the government? They know best after all.

You know.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033255)

My DL photo is now 12 years old. They did not requested a new one my last renewal and since they last 8 years my photo will be 16 years old when my next one comes up. I had ZERO grey hair back then...

It going to get a lot worse soon... (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about a year ago | (#44033317)

States such the People's Republic of Massachusetts wants to put transponders in every car, ostensibly so they can tax you on the actual miles driven in the state, as if this was not bad enough, but you just know that it will be used against political enemies. There are microphones in most cities already...

Re:It going to get a lot worse soon... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#44033403)

When I was living there we called it the People's Republic of Taxachusetts.

Question (2)

Roachie (2180772) | about a year ago | (#44033483)

Anyone here with a scuba, or pilots license? Does it have your address on it???

Ep!?9! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44033551)

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