The FBI’s growing collection of facial recognition data inside its Next Generation Identification (NGI) database already includes 16 million images as of the middle of 2013, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)… The agency’s goal of expanding to 52 million images by 2015 also includes a possible 4.3 million images taken for non-criminal purposes such as applying for a job.
For the first time, U.S. law enforcement could run searches on both criminal and non-criminal faces simultaneously in the hunt for suspects. That may provide a huge boost for law enforcement. But it also means that anyone submitting a photo as part of a background check for a job, applying for a driver’s license or getting a passport could end up on a ranked list of faces when an FBI agent searches for suspects in the database.
The EFF posted records detailing NGI’s plans after obtaining them through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. NGI’s database assigns a “Universal Control Number” to every criminal or non-criminal record on file. Each record could contain fingerprints, palm prints, iris scans and facial recognition data linked to individual information such as name, home address, ID number, immigration status, age, race, etc. NGI is built upon the FBI’s legacy fingerprint database that already includes over 100 million individual records, but previous FBI databases never combined criminal records with the records of ordinary citizens.