FBI Grilled Over Secrecy of Facial Recognition Program
The FBI’s use of facial recognition technology and their expansive photo databases were called into question during a hearing Wednesday with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Lawmakers are concerned the FBI is not adequately protecting these images of millions of American citizens, in addition to improperly following transparency regulations as they relate to such images.
Not to mention, the FBI secretly developed this facial recognition network for law enforcement to identify people in the U.S. without their knowledge.
"Why did the FBI not fulfill the requirement of the law?" asked House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz at a hearing on Wednesday.
The FBI didn't let citizens know the agency was collecting photos from motor vehicle departments, according to a report released last May from the Government Accountability Office (GAO. And a lot of people can be found on law enforcement facial recognition networks — around half of American adults, according to a study from Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology.
Kimberly Del Greco, the deputy assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, faced tough questioning from both sides of the aisle at the recent hearing.
"So here's the problem," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the committee chairman. "You're required by law to put out a privacy statement and you didn't and now we're supposed to trust you with hundreds of millions of people's faces."
Del Greco said, in her testimony and responses to questioning, that privacy is of the utmost importance to the FBI and that the facial recognition results are used only as investigative leads.
The FBI's NGI-IPS allows law enforcement agencies to search a database of over 30 million photos to support criminal investigations. The bureau can also access an internal unit called Facial Analysis, Comparison and Evaluation, which can tap other federal photo repositories and databases in 16 states that can include driver's license photos. Through these databases, the FBI has access to more than 411 million photos of Americans, many of whom have never been convicted of a crime, reports FCW.
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