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FBI Facial Recognition Project To Track Crooks & Civilians Too?

Posted on 10 September 2012 by author

As a way to update their national fingerprint database, the FBI kicks off its facial recognition program to detect criminals. Dubbed as the NGI (Next Generation Identification), it is FBI’s long-awaited program and it includes other biometrics such as voice identification, DNA analysis, and iris scans.

The program had a pilot launch in February and it is expected to be in full swing in 2014. A number of states have already uploaded their photos for mugshot scanning. FBI officials also declared their intent in tracking down a suspected lawbreaker by picking out his face among the crowd.

On the reverse side, images of a targeted individual from uploaded public photos or security cameras would be compared with the kept national repository of images of FBI. An automatic search is performed through algorithm which then produces a list of potential hits. These will be sorted out and will be used as possible leads to aid in the investigation process.

The technical advancements offered by the project have this sincere mission of helping law enforcement to accurately identify criminals and perform speedy arrests. On the other hand, privacy supporters couldn’t help but be concerned about the vast scope of FBI’s program. They are worried that people who have no criminal record and are captured in the camera together with a person of interest would reach the federal database or worse, be subjected to unwarranted surveillance.

Though details on the algorithms used by the FBI are scarce, its technology can be so accurate if compared with those photos captured in controlled situations such as police shots or passport photos.

A test conducted in 2010 revealed that the best algorithms are able to pick someone from a large pool of 1.6 million mugshots with 92% accuracy. It is also possible to match a mugshot with a photo of someone who is not directly looking at the camera. An algorithm developed by Marios Savvides’ lab has the capacity to analyse front and side views, create 3D model, rotate by 70 degrees, and match the new image with impressive accuracy.

More details on how the program will actually work are still unknown. Though the program is legal, the facial recognition technology still has a long way to go as it is on a trial and error stage.

(source)



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