Facial Recognition: Is your driver’s license also a license to profile?


How much do you know about facial recognition technology? What is it? And, is it happening to you?

FACT: If you post photos of you and your friends on social media, and tag yourselves in those photos, you are participating in a very large facial recognition experiment. I say experiment because somewhere along the way we accepted this practice. (I’m sure in all of that blah, blah, blah stuff they make us agree to into order to have access to the fun stuff, is probably some legalese about facial recognition profiling.)

The graphic below explains how it works: A photo of a known person (tagged by you) is enrolled in a database. When the photo of an unknown person is introduced to the same database, the computer compares a certain number of facial points to the other known photos to see if a match can be obtained. You’ll notice when you tag a group of friends, that Facebook will offer up some names for you to select from. This is because you have already IDed some of these people and FB’s facial recognition algorithm is offering you a tagging short cut.

Awesome! Nothing like easy click, clicks to keep our social media running like well-oiled spies er, machines. But what about privacy concerns?

Being Ms. 4N6Fan-Knowitall, I was pretty sure that these days detectives barely need to leave the comfort of their espresso machines to do their job. I figured they could just hand over the photo of the unidentified criminal to the adorable, quirky, crime-scene computer girl and that she would enter said photo into the computer, press the button and wait for the perp’s identity to pop up on the screen of her magic, all-seeing computer. (My magical, all-seeing computer is apparently on backorder!)

How many times have we seen this? It has to be a real thing, right?

Well, now that I’m seriously researching facial recognition for the second book in the To Catch A Killer series, (yes, dropping some insider info) I realized I have been dealing with “Film-syFacts” which can also be written as FLIMSY-FACTS. Which is literally made-up, how to catch a criminal stuff, for TV and film.

So, here are the highlights of where we stand with facial recognition technology, both legally and technically after the FBI, along with members of industry and society,   (whatever the hell that mumbo-jumbo means), appeared on a panel before the U.S. House Oversight Committee to explore the privacy issues that abound with the use of facial recognition technology, and to evaluate if legislation is necessary:

  • The FBI has been using FR for years without telling us or publishing a privacy statement…which is against the law!
  • The FBI claims their database only contains criminal mugshots, about 30 million photos. But that’s only partially true. The Bureau also has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with 18 states to share their photos, including driver’s license photos, with them. Which would give them access to about 400 million photos. And, it’s being argued that you have a right to privacy where your driver’s license is concerned.
  • But the most disturbing fact to come out of today’s revealing news article is the inaccuracy of this technology. There is an acceptable margin for error rate of 20%. But then there are the years of well- documented racially biased police practices which suggest that people of color and immigrants will be unfairly and disproportionately subjected to this profiling and the errors slated to occur. 

Read the full article: Source: Forensic Mag 3/27/2017

And know that I’m going to be keeping tabs on this and reporting back!





About Sheryl Scarborough

For MONEY I have written: TV series, cartoons, comic books, graphic novels, magazine articles, Business Plans, Direct Music Marketing letters (as Mariah Carey, MC Hammer and others), Corporate Newsletters, Mens Style (online) Magazine (as managing editor),screenplays (well, okay so not so much about the money there) and Restaurant Reviews (for free food!) Now… I’m writing for love and what I LOVE are young adult mystery novels.

4N6 Fans, teens + forensics

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