Government access to biometric data is rapidly expanding, with millions of Americans already in the system. These growing databases, primarily driven by federal policy, pose significant privacy issues.
With simple snap of a photo from a police officer using an iPhone app can search through driver’s license to identify you. Now, facial recognition technology has gone mobile, and it is cross-referenced with other databases. In Sacramento County, the Sheriff’s Department is using an iPhone app built by the same company that makes the department’s license plate reader technology. In a recently released video, an officer was able to find a suspects real identity within seconds with a simple still picture from a phone camera.
The facial recognition program has expanded from four to 500 officers. While there are legitimate reasons for an officer to have access to biometric data to identify suspects, there are serious privacy implications, along with the potential for abuse. As we saw in the video, within seconds the app was able to identify a subject. That means whoever holds this technology must have access to a plethora of databases. Information is hard to compartmentalized when it has already been freely accessed by whoever holds the app. Access to a multitude of databases can lead to abuse and unwarranted surveillance. We currently do not know what databases they have access to, but a recent report suggests it is more than just mug shots and driver’s license photos.
We do know facial recognition software sorts through searchable databases…