Jason Chaffetz: FBI Assistant Director Misleads Congress With Answers To Simple Question

Published on Mar 22, 2017 by Scott Anthony

March 22, 2017
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
FBI Facial Recognition Technology

Approximately half of adult Americans’ photographs are in a FRT database.

18 states each have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the FBI to share photos with the federal government, including from state departments of motor vehicles (DMV). The committee identified Maryland and Arizona as having MOUs with the FBI.

The FBI will continue to pursue MOUs with states to gain access to DMV images.

The FBI used facial recognition technology (FRT) for years without first publishing a privacy impact assessment, as required by law.

FRT has accuracy deficiencies, misidentifying female and African American individuals at a higher rate. Human verification is often insufficient as a backup and can allow for racial bias.

The FBI went to great lengths to exempt itself from certain provisions of the Privacy Act.

To review the current state of FRT, its various uses, benefits, and challenges, and to evaluate if legislation is necessary.

To examine the FBI’s use of FRT and the FBI policies that govern the recording, retention, and use of photographs by law enforcement.

The Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law estimated that, when accounting for all of the databases that law enforcement has access to, nearly one in two Americans is in a facial recognition database.

The FBI’s Next Generation Identification system includes an Interstate Photo System that allows the FBI and selected state and local law enforcement to search a database of over 30 million photos. The FBI also has agreements with at least 17 states that allow it to request a FRT search of state driver’s license databases.

A Government Accountability Office report found that the FBI should better ensure privacy and accuracy in its use of FRT.


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