The Next Generation Identification programme will include a nationwide database of criminal faces and other biometrics
"FACE recognition is ínowí," declared Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in a testimony before the US Senate in July.
It certainly seems that way. As part of an update to the national fingerprint database, the FBI has begun rolling out facial recognition to identify criminals.
It will form part of the bureauís long-awaited, $1 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) programme, which will also add biometrics such as iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification to the toolkit. A handful of states began uploading their photos as part of a pilot programme this February and it is expected to be rolled out nationwide by 2014. In addition to scanning mugshots for a match, FBI officials have indicated that they are keen to track a suspect by picking out their face in a crowd.
Another application would be the reverse: images of a person of interest from security cameras or public photos uploaded onto the internet could be compared against a national repository of images held by the FBI. An algorithm would perform an automatic search and return a list of potential hits for an officer to sort through and use as possible leads for an investigation.
Ideally, such technological advancements will allow law enforcement to identify criminals more accurately and lead to quicker arrests. But privacy advocates are worried by the broad scope of the FBIís plans. They are concerned that people with no criminal record who are caught on camera alongside a person of interest could end up in a federal database, or be subject to unwarranted surveillance.
The FBIís Jerome Pender told the Senate in July that the searchable photo database used in the pilot studies only includes mugshots of known criminals. But itís unclear from the NGIís privacy statement whether that will remain the case once the entire system is up and running or if civilian photos might be added, says attorney Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The FBI was unable to answer New Scientistís questions before the magazine went to press.
The FBI hasnít shared details of the algorithms it is using, but its technology could be very accurate if applied to photographs taken in controlled situations such as passport photos or police shots.
Estonia must accept African & Middle Eastern immigrants says politician 2015-05-22 3:06
Kalle Laanet, an Estonian politician, spoke at the International Migration Forum held in Tallinn. He told the audience that the question is not: Should Estonia take the African and the Middle Eastern immigrants (who illegally entered Southern Europe)? He said the question is: How will Estonia take the immigrants?
‚ÄúToday the issue is not whether Estonia should receive the refugees coming to ...
Rescuing Palmyra: History's lesson in how to save artefacts 2015-05-21 22:49
With Islamic State militants now inside the historic town of Palmyra in Syria, the question, inevitably, is whether they will destroy the ancient ruins.
As IS continues to sweep through parts of Iraq and Syria, damage to centuries-old artefacts - because IS sees statues and shrines as idolatrous - is plentiful.
But history has shown that, when culturally important sites are under ...
Saudi Arabia Wants to Convert Sweden to Islam 2015-05-21 20:38
Aje Carlbom is an Associate Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Malmö
Since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has actively spread its interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism or Salafism, worldwide. It is the most literal version of Islam and affects many young Muslims, who regard society as a place to Islamize, writes social anthropologist Aje Carlbom.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstr√∂m was ...
Professor: If You Read To Your Kids, You're 'Unfairly Disadvantaging' Others 2015-05-21 18:22
According to a professor at the University of Warwick in England, parents who read to their kids should be thinking about how they're "unfairly disadvantaging other people's children" by doing so.
In an interview with ABC Radio last week, philosopher and professor Adam Swift said that since "bedtime stories activities . . . do indeed foster and produce . . ...
If You Read About Conspiracies You're Just Like Osama Bin Laden Apparently 2015-05-21 3:46
At its heart, the story of Osama bin Laden's time at his house in Abbottabad is surreal. The American image of bin Laden - leering at us from under his head wrap as he plots and schemes - is undermined by the mundane realities of his life. The guy was responsible for murdering thousands of Americans and orchestrating a global ...