In view of the increasingly significant role that the technology has come to play in our lives, FBI has been ramping up its efforts to make use of cutting-edge technology in ensuring the national security. The agency has now stated that it will soon be handing over ‘Facial Recognition Software’ to law-enforcement agencies around the U.S.
The new facial recognition software is unique in that it will hook up any agency that makes use of it to a central database. The software will allow access to a “Universal Face Workstation” where the officers can compare any given photo against 12.8 million photos in the database. Moreover, police will also be able to add further context to the images on the database by cross-referencing them with other images.
FBI claims that it will include only the photos of booked criminals in the database and that it wouldn’t take the images from social media sites to enhance its image repository. However, to many, this seems too good to be true. Critics have cited that this would inevitably lead to an infringement on the basic rights of the citizens.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, “FBI wants to be able to search and identify people in photos of crowds and in pictures posted on social media sites—even if the people in those photos haven’t been arrested for or even suspected of a crime.”
Furthermore, such wide-scale identification, if not checked through proper measures, can eventually lead to suppression of freedom of expression. For instance, Senator Al-Franklen, expressed his concerns before the Senate judiciary committee’s hearing that with the help of such a facial recognition software, FBI can pinpoint the identities of the protesters at a political event and can then target them.