FBI Announces Completion, Deployment Of Its Facial Recognition System


U.S. NEWS — The Next Generation Identification (NGI) system — an advanced FBI facial recognition system that has been in the making for more than three years — has finally been completed according to a Monday announcement by the bureau.

One of the two new NGI system features includes the Interstate Photo System (IPS), which, according to the announcement, “will provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities.”

The system has been the target of intense scrutiny by privacy and civil liberties advocates for lumping criminal mugshots in with profile pictures pulled from background checks and employment records, i.e., people that have not had said photographs taken in association with a crime.

According to The Verge, the facial recognition system has come under fire from privacy groups for mixing traditional mug shot photos with non-criminal faces pulled from employment records and background check databases. The system is expected to collect as many as 52 million faces in total. Some in the industry have also called out the IPS as ineffective, based on its relatively low rate of success. For a given face, NGI returns a list of 50 candidates, and only promises an 85 percent chance that the suspect will be on the list. Still, for anyone concerned about the privacy implications of facial recognition tech, the new system is cause for alarm. Law enforcement groups across the country will soon start working with the system, and we’re likely to see more stories like this one as the technology spreads.

The Daily Caller, says the second new feature, known as “Rap Back,” gives organizations the option of receiving ongoing criminal activity notifications about “individuals holding positions of trust, such as school teachers.”

“Law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, and other criminal justice entities will also greatly improve their effectiveness by being advised of subsequent criminal activity of persons under investigation or supervision,” the agency said Monday.

The NGI system will eventually replace the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System “in addition to adding new services and capabilities.”

Sources: The Verge; The Daily Caller