FBI Mining DMV Photos For Fugitives

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The AP [via Yahoo] reports that the FBI has begun using facial recognition software to dig through DMV photo archives searching for fugitives, causing new worries for privacy advocates. “Everybody’s participating, essentially, in a virtual lineup by getting a driver’s license,” the ACLU’s Christopher Calabrese explains. Drivers licenses, argues Calabrese are rapidly becoming more than, well, driver’s licenses. “Now you need them to open a bank account. You need them to be identified everywhere. And suddenly they’re becoming the de facto law enforcement database,” he says. State and Federal laws prohibit the FBI from collecting and storing DMV records as a law-enforcement database, so the pilot program in North Carolina is taking place within the state DMV with its full cooperation.

The FBI’s response to privacy concerns are predictably McCarthian. “Unless the person’s a criminal, we would not have a need to have that information in the system,” says Kim Del Greco, head of the FBI’s biometrics division. “I think that would be a privacy concern. We’re staying away from that.” But they’re not staying away from efforts to push the use of biometric-mining nationwide. According to the AP’s report, the FBI has assembled a panel of experts tasked with standardizing drivers license photos and push use of biometric-mining nationwide. But the value of mining DMV records with the biometric software is limited for one simple reason, expressed perfectly by Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “We don’t have good photos of terrorists,” he explains. “Most of the facial-recognition systems today are built on state DMV records because that’s where the good photos are. It’s not where the terrorists are.” Besides, don’t DMV photos make everyone look guilty?

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Afabbro Afabbro on Oct 13, 2009

    The FBI is using government-held information to hunt down criminals and bring them to justice? Thumbs up from me.

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Oct 13, 2009

    Allow me to propose a distinction that is crucial to the legal analysis of claims about privacy. It is a phrase the "legitimate expectation of privacy." An example on one side. You and your spouse are spending an evening at home watching movies. You have a legitimate expectation that the situation is private. If a peeping tom creeps up to the window and takes pictures of you, he has invaded your privacy, you can sue him and he can be sent to jail. The situation above is the opposite side of the coin. If you enter a DMV office, you must surely know that it is a PUBLIC place, an agency of the state. When a PUBLIC employee takes your picture, enters it into the PUBLIC records and gives you a drivers license, you must surely know that the picture is not private, and that it belongs to the state. The entire transaction and its results take place in PUBLIC, on PUBLIC property, with PUBLIC employees, using PUBLIC equipment to create PUBLIC records. And you have no legitimate expectation of privacy, and therefore no privacy rights. Punch line: What happens in private stays private, what happens in PUBLIC is not private.

  • IBx1 Everyone in the working class (if you’re not in the obscenely wealthy capital class and you perform work for money you’re working class) should unionize.
  • Jrhurren Legend
  • Ltcmgm78 Imagine the feeling of fulfillment he must have when he looks upon all the improvements to the Corvette over time!
  • ToolGuy "The car is the eye in my head and I have never spared money on it, no less, it is not new and is over 30 years old."• Translation please?(Theories: written by AI; written by an engineer lol)
  • Ltcmgm78 It depends on whether or not the union is a help or a hindrance to the manufacturer and workers. A union isn't needed if the manufacturer takes care of its workers.