But That’s Not Even My Good Side: Cops Have Half Of All Americans In Their Facial Recognition Database
We read a lot about the intrusion of the surveillance state in a general sense, the fears we have about the ways our rights are being violated through 007-like activities that have become alarmingly routine. Activities like local, state and FBI use of Stingray devices to scoop up all cell phone activity in a particular area, or the Snowden revelations about the NSA doing the same greedy hoover routine only a much grander scale with our email and phone calls.
But it is only rarely that we read or hear about the ways the rubber meets the road in terms of the surveillance state; that is to say, we rarely learn about just exactly what rights and whose rights are being violated and in what specific ways.
But now a new study is stepping into the breach to lay out in stark terms just how ubiquitous the surveillance state apparatus really is, at least by one measure: it turns out that if you are an adult U.S. citizen, there is pretty much a coin flip of a chance as to whether you are currently in the facial recognition database shared by law enforcement nationwide.
What’s perhaps most worrying–even more so than the fact that this police database holds information on over 117 million citizens of the “land of the free,” the vast majority of whom are law-abiding and have never committed a crime–is that this is the first time such a comprehensive look at all use of facial recognition apparatus nationwide has been approached.
The study’s authors looked at data from over 100 police departments over the course of a year in order to extrapolate the 117 million figure they came to, of photos currently being held by the database. A large number of such photos come from mugshots, and obviously the number would never be so high if there weren’t heavy interagency cooperation and sharing.
One particularly disturbing bit of information on how law enforcement uses these photos is that at least 26 and possibly as many as 30 states allow agencies to run or request searches against their databases of driver’s licenses and ID photos.
In addition, several large-city police departments are researching how they might implement real-time recognition on live street cameras, meaning anyone walking virtually anywhere in one of these cities–think about how ubiquitous cameras are in the city–could be scanned by police against the database.
We’re talking real-life dystopia here, folks. Enjoy all your freedom as you proudly pull the voting lever for people who will all permit this atrocity to continue.