The Vast, Secretive Database that Could Instantly ID You in a Crowd


From Fast “I wasn’t informed when my driver’s license was renewed my photograph was going to be in a repository that could be searched by law enforcement across the country,” said Representative Paul Mitchell (R-Michigan).

His face, and the faces of over 125 million Americans, are believed to be stored in databases used by local and federal law enforcement to scan photos and videos of individuals. Law enforcement is not the sole user of this biometrics technology. Facebook and other companies are earnestly developing their AI systems.

Of the 50 states, 29 have allowed FBI and police agencies to search their repositories of drivers’ faces during investigations. But an estimated 80% of the repository consists of non-criminal offenders and 36,000 FBI searches have already been conducted without warrants, audits, or accuracy tests. Who then is to answer the question of legality and accuracy?

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