The Expa pan ndin ding Survei eilllan ance ce State: Why Colorado Should Scrap The Plan To Map Every Driver’s Face and Should Ban Facial Facial Recognition Recognition In In Public blic Places Places
B y M i k e K rause rause
Issue Paper Number 88-2 2001 October, ctober, 2001
Executive Summary “Tobe eg governed… …iistobe ew watched, inspected, dir irected, indoctri rinated, numbered, estiim mated, regulla ated, commanded, contrro oll lled, law-driiv ven, preached at, spie ied upon, censured, checked, vallu ued, enrolllled by creaturre es whohave havene neither theri therig ght, nor the thew wisdom, nor the thevi virtue rtueto to doso.” Pierre-Joseph Proudhon As a whole, we citizens routinely hand over large amounts of personal and intrusive inf informa orma tion ti statejust as pul a ma tter ofo law .o Whethe to o obtain btain a li licens cense, to h co comply mply ww it ith the police pol ice of off fon icertowthe ho has pulled led you over, ver, or r to ttell ellr the tax man how muc money ehm ake, it seems that we are always handing ov over er another bi bitt o off inf information ormation about ourselv ourselves. es. The Col Colorado orado lleg egislatur islature last year introduced us to the next generati tion on o off surveill surveillanc ance technology, technol ogy, ffac acial recogniti recognition, on, in a natio tion n already under intense scrutiny. Indeed, the amount of gov overnm ernmentent-compelled compelled inf informa ormati tion on on ci citi tizens, zens, gathered not as part of any criminal inv investiga estigati tion on but rather as a matter o off routi routine, ne, has becomeimmense. IIn n a recent www.cato.org)) briefing briefing paper, “ “Wa Watching Y You: ou: Washington, D.C..C.-ba based Cato Institute ((www.cato.org Systematic Federal Surveil rveillance lance of Ordinary Americans” (http:/ http:/ / www.cato.org/ pu pubs bs// br briefs/ iefs/ bp bp--069es.h s.htm tmll), Boi Boise se State University Prof Profes essor Charlot rlotte te T Tw wight provi provide des a partial llist. ist. This llist ist includes emp mplo loym yment histories, iincome ncome, childhoo chil dhood d and subsequent educati tional onal experiences, medical hi histo stories ries (i (including ncluding docto doctors’ rs’ subjective subjectiv e impressions) impressions),, financial financial transactio ctions ns (incl (including uding copi copies es of personal checks written), ancestry, rent and mortga mortgagepayments jjust ust to name a few. Here in Colorado, Colorado, tthe he Department of Revenuebundles up and sells governmentnt-compelled compelled inf informa ormati tion. on. T This his incl include udes names, addresses, dates of bi birth, rth, driv driving ing records, restricti restrictions ons and ot other her information information associated with yo your ur license and vehicle registratio istration. n. .i2i.org// Pub Publica lications/ tions/ Opp-Eds/ Eds/ Pe Persona rsonalFreedom/ dr driverd iverda ata ta.htm .htm)) (www.i2i.org Nearly all o off thi this s gov overnm ernmentent-compelled compelled inf informa ormati tion on iis s now keyed in to the Social ocial Security rity number, as a “unique identi identiffier.” Every new database, every newsurveill Every surveillanc ance too tooll is usuall lly y accompanied by the promise o off some newbenefit it.. It wil illl make us safer, ffight ight ffrau raud and other crimes, sto stop p il illega legal iimm mmigration tion and make government more eff effici icient. ent. A And nd of course, pri privacy vacy concerns are always assuaged with tthe he promise of strict ov over ersight. sight. Yett invariably, these measures are used for Ye for purposes other than those promised. Rather than making government more ef efffici icient, ent, tthey hey instead fuel tthe he growth o off ever bigger and more int intrusive rusive governm overnment. In ‘Watching Y You’, ou’, P Prof rofessor essor Twight shows how this works. With the expanding Surveil urveillance lance State has come ro routi utine ne “data swappi pping” ng” by vario various us gov overnme ernment agencies. Some of the agencies routi routinely nely exchanging iinf nformation ormation about us are: ocial al Security rity A Administratio dministration n (SSA) The IRS and the Soci lth h CareFinancing A Administratio dministration n SSA and the Healt rvice and the D Depa epartment o off Labor The Postal Service The Justice Department and the Department of Veterans Af Afffairs •
RS and state soci social al servi services ces agenci ncies es The IIRS Depa epartment o off Educatio Education n and the Department o off Healt lth h and Human Services The D The Soci ocial al Security A Administratio dministration n and State Courts
It is is not clear tha thatt the net eff effec ect o off all this iis s more efficient govern governme ment or less fraud, crime and illeg illegal immigration, but rather more general scruti scrutiny ny of the popul population ation by ttheir heir government. Law Prof Professor essor Paul Swartz iis s quot oted ed in ‘Watching Y You’, ou’, “Americans no llonger onger know how their personal informa informati tion on wil willl be applied, who wil willl gain access to iitt and what decisions decisio ns will be made wit ith h it it… …Indiv ndividuals iduals whose personal data are shared, processed and stored sto red by amysterio mysterious us bureaucracy will be more llikel ikely y to act as the gov overnme ernment wishes them to act.” This matters because, in in A Ame merica, the government iis s supposed to be the servant and not the master. The promises of facial recognitio recognition n have been the usual: ffight ight fra fraud, reduce crime, stop iill lleg egal immigrati tion, on, etc. But iinteres nteresti ting ngly enough, its pro proponents ponents have spent as much, iiff not more time ti meexplaini explaining ng how it wil illl no nott be used as they have expounding on iits ts vi virtues. rtues. This is evidence evi dence that more and more peopl people, e, in includi cluding ng many in gov governme ernment, arequestio questioni ning ng the need for a new expansion of the Surveill urveillanc ance State. This paper wil illl examine the potential use and abuse of facial recognitio recognition n in conj conjunctio unction n wit ith h existing existi ng governm overnment databases, its ef effficacy, its pl plac ace (or llac ack thereof of)) iin n a free and open society, and and the proposed u use se of facia ciall recog cogniti nition on iin n Col Colorad orado.
Introduction This spring, the Col Colorado orado legislature approved, and the governor overnor signed, legislatio legislation n to all allow ow the Divi Division sion o off Moto otorr Vehicles to use b bio iome metric tec technolo hnolog gy to ffa acially m ma ap or “ “fface print” Colorado Col orado license applicants. In JJuly, uly, lawmakers fo found und themselves on the defensiv defensive e when it was revealed that the legislation legislatio n all allowed owed fo forr unrestricted use of the D DMV MV database by any governm overnment agency that cares tothing tak tak esaup peek. The he governor ovl ernor dmised consi considera dera ti tion on o off (new an executive order rder tighten thi ng andT severa lawmahas kersexpresse have pro promised legisl islation ation laws o on no to top po offtonew laws) tto o makesure facial mapping is used only ffor or iits ts iintende ntended purpose. (1)
Is This Supposed to Make Everything OK? Whatever good int intentio entions ns are behind the ffa acece-print print database, they have been ov oversha ershadowed by the actio ctions ns of government iin n another state. This year, at Super Bowl X XX XXV, po poli lice ce in Tampa, Fl Flori orida da used face scanning and facial recognit nitio ion n technol hnologies ogies to surrepti ptiti tiousl ously y scan and capture images of football ootball ffans ans to compare against an existi existing ng database of digital pho photo tos. s. Thereis not nothing hing new about the use of surveill surveilla ance tool tools s in contemporary America. Indeed weare routinel routinely y under surveill surveillanc ance whil hile e goi oing ng about o our ur dail ily y li lives. ves. A Att the bank, in parking lots, lo ts, whil while e shoppi shopping ng and even whil while e pumping ping gas, we are under the scruti scrutiny ny of the camera. Moreov oreover, er, ffac acial recogniti recognition on technol technology ogy is nothi nothing ng new. IItt has been in use in a li limited mited capacit ity y for for so some meti time me now, by the D Depa epartment of Defense, agencies of the federal gov overnm ernment, so some me priv iva ate sector iindustries ndustries and by governments iin no other ther countri countries. es. Thereis also not nothing hing inherentl ntly y wrong with the use of technolo technolog gy by governm overnment. Police Police in Colorado Col orado have used vi video deo cameras to help identi identiffy and track down rio rioters ters on several occasions and ima images captured by citi citizens zens iin n the ri rig ght ttime ime at the right pl plac ace have pro proved ved to be valuable to law enforceme nforcement. Also, some government applications of facial recognition and face scanning systems have Als merit. Regulati ulating ng access to crimi criminal nal evidence, vidence, weapons pons arsenals or nuclear materials, ffor or example, may beideally suited for bio biome metrics. And the li limited mited use of facial recogniti ognition on against a database of known or suspected terrorists in airports may prove to be a highly eff effective ective and eff effici icient ent security measure. Moreov oreover, er, closed circuit T TV V cameras are of often ten used to moni monito torr traffic and crowds. But CCTV CCT V can’t be used to instantl instantly y match a ffac ace to a database and create an electronic dossier. But the combination combination of facial scanning and recogniti ognition on so sofftware deployed in publ public ic spaces and a bio biome metri trica call lly y“ “ma mapped” database of every licensed driver in the state combined with the accompanying D DMV MV iinf nforma ormati tion on (o (orr combin combined ed wit ith ho other ther state agency databases such as pol police agencies or rev revenue enue departments) represents anew lev level el of survei surveillllance ance and potential pot ential abusethat, abov above e and beyond the priv priva acy issues raised, co could uld usher in new levels o off int intrusion rusion iinto nto the li lives ves of Col Colorada oradans and an unnecessary expansio nsion n of governm overnment power. I am not alone here. This July, conservativ tive e HouseMajority jority Leader D Dick ick A Arm rmey (R(R-T TX) jo joined with the American Civil Liberties Union to raise the alarm about the rise of the surveillanc surveill ance state. Col Colorado’s orado’s plan was specif pecificall ically y menti ntioned: oned: “Used in conj conjunctio unction n wit ith h
facial recogniti recognition on so sofftware, ffor or example, the Col Colorado orado database could all allow ow the publi blic c movements of every citi citizen zen in the state to be identif identified, ied, tracked, recorded and stored.” (2) For this this and other reasons to ffol ollo low, w, the Col Colorado orado Legislature shoul should d take two paths wit ith h regard to face scanning/ recognit nitio ion. n. F First, irst, abandon any attempt to regulate or lleg egisl islate ate a happy ffac ace onto the propo proposed sed D DMV MV database and simply scrap iit, t, and secondl condly, y, ban any routine routi ne or general use of ffac acial recogniti recognition on technol technology ogy in public pl pla aces.
Official Function and Original Intent In Sectio tion n (I (IV V) (A (A)) of HB 01 01--1125, the of offfending C Col olorad orado bil bill, l, allo allow ws fo forr the access and use of DMV images and facial recognit nitio ion n technolo technology gy to “ “aid aid a federal, state or llocal ocal gov overnm ernment agency in carrying out such agency’s of offfici icial al functi function. on.” ” Well, tthere hereare lots lots of gov over ernm nment ent agencies with a wide variety of “of offficial ffunc unctio tions.” ns.” The city of Tampa was so enamored with the rol rollo lout ut of the newsnoo snooping ping too tool, l, they decided to keep it around. In In Y Ybor bor Ci City, ty, an entertainment dist district rict o off Tampa, it has now becomean of offficial ffunc unctio tion n of the poli police ce to use fac facial ial scanning and recog cogniti nition on so sofftw twa are to ran randomly domly scan, capture and compare peopl people’s e’s fface aces to a database of wanted ffelo elons ns ffor or engaging in such noxious noxious behavior vior as strol strolli ling ng down the street. (3) Several city co council uncil members who approv pproved ed the practice now claim they were“tricked” iinto nto v voti oting ng for it; it; such “I didn’t know what I was vo voti ting ng fo for” r” conf confusion usion seems to be as common a probl problem em at sea level iis s it is at a mile high. A simil similar ar program is underway along the beachf hfront ront iin nV Virgini irginia a Beach, V Virgini irginia a (4) and is being consi considere dered by other cit cities. ies. The roll rollout out o off facial recogniti recognition on iinto nto tthe he mainstream of publi public c spaces has already turned on its head the bedrock notio notion n of “Innocen nnocentt until proven g guilty” uilty” into “Su “Suspe spect until cleared by a box o off wires.” Col Colorado’s orado’s ffac aciall ially y mapped D DMV MV database as part of a facial recognit nitio ion n platform platf orm represents the next step, ffrom rom random scanning to lloo ook k ffor or wanted criminals to random scanning to moni monito torr the comings and goings of citi citizens. zens. It also threatens to underm rmine ine the integrity of poli police ce. The h honorable onorable prof ofes ession o off “Peace Officer” iis s already becoming a quaint and antiquated noti notion. on. “Drug Warrio rrior” r” and “ParaMil ilit itar ary” are to too oo offten descripti scriptive ve of contemporary law enfo enforce rcement. D Do o we also want to add “O “Omn mniscient iscient Surveillers”? illers”? A As sV Virg irgini inia a Beach Poli Police ce Ch Chief ief A.M. Jacobs pu puts ts it, “When people say it’ it’s s Big Brother watching over you, I li like ke to say it’s Bi Big g Brot Brother her watching out ffor or yo you.” Th The e idea of police as an omniscient for force is the antithesis of a free and open society and can onl only y worsen the culture of passiv sivit ity, y, rather than self determination and respect ffor or the law, that that is pushed by both gov governm ernment and in many news roo rooms. ms. “ “Wa Watching out for yo you” is but a baby step fr fro om “Watching over you.” Would an “off “offiicial function” here in Colorado Col orado incl include ude the scanning and identif identifying ying of people peaceful cefully ly prot protesting esting facial scanning in front of the Capitol? Some years back, the Col Colorado orado D Depa epartment o off Revenuewas caught selli selling ng digitiz digitized ed li license cense photos phot os to Image Data Corporatio Corporation n — at the behest of the Secret Service — for a nati tional onal “True ID” database. The practice was stopped onl only y after publi blic c outcry, but the intent of the database was abad jo joke ke fro from m the beginni inning. ng. IIts ts o offfici icial al purpose was to ffight ight ffra raud — a worthy enough cause — but a1997 letter ffrom rom members of Congress to Image Data praised the programfor iits ts “ “wides widespread potenti potential.” al.” A propri proprieta etary Image Data propo proposa sal, brought to light light through a Freedom of Inf nforma ormati tion on A Act ct request pi pitched tched the idea to state governments as a “highly eff effective ective way of increasing tax revenue.” (5)
The lesson ffrom rom the “T “True rueID” debacle and the Orwell llian ian use of facia ciall recogniti nition on technology technolo gy going on elsewhere is that with gov governm ernment, “ “int intende ended use” and “o “offfici icial al functio unction” n” are of often ten elastic concepts, o open pen to whatever changethe publi public c can be scared, foo ooled led or coerced into accepti pting ng. Such “purpose creep” iis s evident vident in anot nother her DMV practice (albeit one required by the ffede ederal government). Col Colorada oradans are currentl ntly y required to hand over ov er their Social Security number before they can get a li license cense, despit despite e the ffac act th tha at tthe he gov overnm ernment at one ti time mepromised it woul ould d never be used fo forr any purpose ot other her than Social Securit ity. y. ((6) 6)
It’s OK, We’re With the Government Government Thereis an underlying assumpti ption on on tthe he part o off many that powerful and inv inva asive sive inf information ormation systems areacceptable because they arein tthe he hands of governm overnment. For those those whose power and authori uthority ty exi exists sts so solely lely on the basis of bigger governm overnment, tthe he message is clear — being an emplo employee yee of the state means you are more trustwort trustworthy hy than the publi public c at large. T This his is tthe he basis ffor or the “I “Iff you have nothing to hide, you have n nothi othing ng to fea fear” argument being used to jjustif ustify y facial recogniti ognition on ffor or publi public c scrutiny. But that people may indeed have something to ffea ear is evi evident dent fro from m the evol evolvi ving ng scandal iin n Michig ichigan invo involv lving ing the state’s Law Enfo Enforce rcement IInf nforma ormatio tion n Network (LE (LEIIN), a datab taba ase that uti utili lizes zes the FBI’ FBI’s s Nationa Natio nal Cri Crime me Inf nforma ormati tion on Center, Michigan vehicl vehicle e registratio istration n and drivi driving ng records, and other ot her databases. A recent D De etroit FreeP ePrressinv investiga estigatio tion n into abuse of the LEI LEIN N has thus far uncovere overed at least 90 instances of misuse by poli police ce of offficers, di dispa spatchers, security guards and ffede ederal agents. T The he LEI LEIN N was used by “t “trusted rusted” gov overnm ernment agents to do favors favors ffor or ffriends, riends, stalk women, dig up dirt o on n an exex-spouse’s spouse’s newhusband, ti tip p of offf criminal suspects to investiga inv estigati tions ons and, iin n one case, was used to iidentif dentify y owners of cars with bumper sti sticker ckers supporting supporti ng a candidate for sherif sherifff, by a deputy of the incumbent sherif rifff. (7) According to the D De etroit FreeP ePrress (8), despite the ffac act that iitt iis s a misdemeanor crime to misuse the system, of the ov over er three dozen pol police ice of offficers fo found und to have abused the system since 1998, only only tthree hree have ffa aced criminal prosecutio prosecution. n. T This his iis s mostly mostly because the system is set up to protect gov governm ernment agents who abuse it. Vagaries in the law diffe fferentiate between “off ffiicial” misuse and general misuse. In other words, if a police of offficer abused thesystem for personal reasons or to help a fellow of offficer, it didn’t rise to a crimina criminal o offfense. Only if the info inform rma atio tion nw wa as shared with a civil civilian ian did the misdemeanor kick iin. n. Further, the group tasked with ov overse erseeing use of the system (consi (consisting sting of pol police ice and Secretary of State of offfici icials, als, jjudg udges and prosecutors) was powerless to enf enforce orce the law or to punish abuse. Their Their o only nly authori authority ty was to revoke entire agencies’ priv privil ileg eges, which they were understandably lo loa athe to do, and they were required to shred the records of their ((non) non) investiga inv estigati tions. ons. IInvestiga nvestigati tion on o off indi indivi vidua dual abuses was lef leftt to tthe he agency the indi indivi vidua dual worked for. Thus, publi public c scrutiny a and nd accountabili bility ty of gov over ernm nmen entt use of a powerful to tool ol of intrusion was made nearly iimpossibl mpossible e by the very government wieldi wielding ng that ttoo ool. l. The messageis clear: each new too tooll of intrusi intrusion on and surveil rveillance lance represents iis s also a new tooll of pot too potential ential abuse. Ev Every ery expansio nsion n of tthe he surveill surveillanc ance state will require yet a further expansio nsion n of government to watch o over ver the watchers.
The oppositi opposition on to accountabil bility ity ffor or ffa acia ciall recog recogniti nition on iis s already mounting. A recent bil billl ((S SB 169) introduced introduced into the Cali lifforni ornia a legisl islatur ature which would have required awarrant pri prior or tto o scanning someone’s ffac ace, was defeated in co comm mmit ittee tee wit ith h oppo oppositi sition on ffrom rom bot both h law enforcem enfo rcement and the biometrics industry. Senator D Debra ebraBowen, the sponsor of the defeated bil bill, l, compared setti tting ng up bio biome metric cameras and recording peopl ople e in publi public: c: “ “[I [It’s] t’s] like like bugging everyone’s phone o on n a city bl block ock and keeping all tthe he tapes on the of offf chance that someone may have committed a crime, or or may commit o one ne in th the e future.” (9) Lest anyone should think think tthat hat thesesuch concerns are anti nti--law enf nforcem orcement or anti ti-technolo tec hnolog gy, consider that the Security IIndu ndustry stry Association and the CEO of Visio isionics nics Corpora Corpo rati tion on ((whose whose facial recogniti recognition on system is in use in T Tam ampa) have call lled ed on Congress to regulate the useof facial recogniti recognition on technolo technolog gy “ “T To ensure that such systems arenot used by police or privatecorporations to track or com compile pile prof profil iles es of innocent c citi itizens.” zens.” (10) IItt speaks vo volumes lumes that tho those se who deal iin n the technol technology ogy don’t trust their bi bigg ggest customer (governm (gov ernment) to pl play ay nice wit ith h it.
Feeding the Leviathan Much of the media attenti ttention on tto o Co Colo lora rado’ do’s s fac face-print e-print database has ffocused ocused on statewide use. It is, af after ter all ll,, the Colo Colora rado D DM MV. But let’s not fforg orget et about the federal government, ent, which has staked aclai claim m to state D DMVs’ MVs’ databases. Tit itle le 18, Sec. 2721 (b) ((1) 1) o off the U.S. Code all llows ows access to st state ate DMV databases fo forr “Use “Use by any government agency, iincl ncludin uding g any court o orr law enf enforcement orcement agency, iin n carrying out its functions…” The federal government is many things. In particul rticular ar it iis, s, as Ho House use Majority ajority Leader Dick Arm Ar mey (R-T -TX) X) expressed in a recent speech to the Federalist Society, “Th The e most intrusive force in the li lives ves of A Ame mericans.” Gov overnm ernment is also, more so than credit bureaus and banks, the worst protector of privacy. As Rep. A Arm rmey ey continued continued,, “ “G Gov over ernm nment ent is the biggest priv privac acy of offfender.” For example, this July the Senate Governm overnment Affairs Committee released areport o off federal agencies’ compli complia ance (non(non-compli complianc ance, actually) with http:/ / www.senate te.g .gov/ ov/ %7 %7Ethomps Ethompson/ pr061501.html) gov overnm ernment privacy poli policies: cies: ((http:/ Some of the ffindi indings ngs were: •
300 persistent “co “cooki okies es on the web sites of 23 dif iffferent agencies”; 14 agreements with thi third rd parties to share inf information; ormation; 42 web bugs; 27 agencies encies in clear viol viola ation tion of their own privac privacy y pol policies. icies.
Or consider this examp mple le of the kind of inf informa ormatio tion n the Social Secur curity ity A Adm dministration shares wit ith h the IIRS RS as a matter of law, “me “medical inf informa ormati tion, on, incl including uding psychological chological or psychiatric informa informati tion on or lla ay inf informa ormati tion on used in medical determinatio inations; ns; and inf information ormation about marital and family relatio relationships nships and other personal relatio lationships. nships.” ” ((11) 11) Aside fr fro om being the single worst privacy offe ffender in America, the federal government also operates, iin n the words of Michael Hyatt, autho thorr of of I In nvasion of Privacy ,“ “T The single largest surveillanc surveill ance network in the worl orld d today.” ((12 12) From the FinCE FinCEN N system, which tracks financial tra transa nsactions, to tthe he “New Hire” datab taba ase, which fo foll llows ows u us s from from job to jjob, ob, to the collecting col lecting of everybody’s medical histo histories, ries, the governm overnment today quite lit litera erall lly y tracks its citizenry citi zenry from cradle to grave. As author Hyatt conti ontinues nues, “ “No Nott onl only y do they have the most resources at their di disposal, sposal, they have no qualms about using them to col collect lect your personal
inf informatio ormation n — ev even en if it means vio violating lating the priv privac acy poli policies cies they recommend to the priv private ate sector.” The federal government iis s also the biggest customer fo forr ffac acial recogniti recognition on ttechnolo echnology gy and is currentl ntly y ffunding unding research into the next generati tion, on, The Human ID proj project, ect, with the goal o off identiffying people ffrom identi rom up to 500 feet away in a variety of li ligh ghti ting ng and background situations. situatio ns. (13) ((S Such as on a battlef battlefield ield o orr through a dimly li litt bedroom windo indow). w). As state law can’t pre-empt federal law, whatever controls Colorado may put on the faceprint databaseare irrelevant when it co come mes to the ffede ederal gov governm ernment. IIn n eff effect, ect, Colorado Colorado would be creating a face-printed face-printed database (with accompanying agency informa informati tion) on) of nearly every Col Colorada oradan and woul ould d have no say in ho how w the most “ “int intrusive rusive fforce orce in the liv lives es of Americans” and the biggest customer of face recognition technology uses it.
No Face Scanning/Recognition in Public Places As noted in the introduction, some uses of facial recognition are pretty unobjectionable and may have a valuable purpose. Face recogniti cognition on systems in publ public ic pla places, however, do no not. t. The clearest danger is as apol polit itical ical to tool ol:: the buildi building ng and keeping of electroni electronic c dossiers on polit pol iticall ically y unpopular (as opposed to il illega legal) activ activit ities; ies; attending meeti tings ngs of unpopular groups or clubs; the tr tra acking of attend ttendee ees of pol politi itica cal ralli rallies es or protests by outout-of of--favo vorr activists for out-of-favor causes. Of course, what is out of favor and politically unpopular is open to change, depending on which parties and indi indivi vidua duals currently hol hold d pol polit itical ical power. One of the more egregio ious us abuses in tthe he Michi ichiga gan LE LEIIN casetook took pl plac ace in G Gene enesee County, wherea poli politi tica cal appoi appointee ntee of the incumbent sherif sherifff had deputi ties es run the plates of cars sporting sporting bumper stickers in ffavor avor of the sheriff riff’s oppo opponent nent in the upcoming primary race. T The he practice was disco discovered vered onl only y because of an anonymous letter. letter. The p public ublic rol rollo lout ut of facia ciall sca scanning nning// recog cogniti nition on technology has the p potential otential to put the enemy fi files les of J. Edgar Hoo Hoover ver to shame. In his a article, rticle, “ “Y Your Face Is Not A Ba Barr Code: Arguments Against A Automa utomatic Face Recognition in Publi Public c Places,” (14) Phil Philip ip A Ag gre from the Inf Informa ormatio tion n Studies Departm rtment ent of the University of of Cali lifforni ornia a, L Los os A Ange ngeles, makes several other other less obvi obvious ous arguments against ffa ace recognit nitio ion n in publi public: c: 1. “As the underlying inf informa ormati tion on and communicatio unications ns technolo technologies gies (di (dig git ital al cameras, image databases, p processi rocessing ng power and data communi nicatio cations) ns) become radically radically cheaper (and more powerful) powerful).. ...new .new facial image databases wil illl not be hard to construct, with with or witho without ut the consent of the people whose ffac aces are captured.” 2. “The inf informa ormation tion ffrom rom face rrec ecognitio ognition n systems is easily co comb mbined ined with iinf nforma ormatio tion n from other technolo technologies… gies…such such as 911 locatio location n tracking in cell pho phones… nes…and and requires the least cooperatio tion n of the individua individuall o off all the biometric identif identification ication technologies.” 3. “It is v ver ery y hard to prov provide ide eff effec ective tive notice of the pr pres esence and capabili bilities ties of cameras in publ public ic pl plac aces, much less obtain meaningful consent. Travel thro throug ugh many public pl pla aces, ffor or example, gov governm ernment of offfices and centraliz ntralized ed transportatio nsportation n facil ilit ities ies is hardly a matter of choi choice ce for anyone wishi ishing ng to liv live e in the modern world.”
In other words, the ffas aster technol hnology ogy advances, the easier it wil willl be ffor or ffac ace scanning/ recognit nitio ion n to be expanded and adapted for purposes never int intende ended. It wil illl also becomemore dif iffficul icultt for for adequate public or governmental ov oversig ersight. This year, ffor or exa examp mple, le, no one in the city gover governme nment of San A Antonio ntonio,, T Texa exas (o (outside utside of the police pol ice department) knewthat the San Anto Antonio nio Pol Police ice had obt obtained ained the FaceIt ffac acial recognitio recognit ion n sof softwa tware (sameas in T Tam ampa) unti untill a newspaper reporter porter sawthem lilisted sted as a customer on V Visi isioni onics cs Corporatio Corporation’s n’s website. ((15) 15) The department purchased the systemas part o off a mug shot system and claims no pl plans ans for po populatio pulation n surveil surveillance lance, but pl plans ans can change and the system allllows ows them to st start art buil buildin ding g thei theirr own database. Being the obj object ect of some nati tional onal attentio attention n concerning the face-mapping database, Col Colorado orado has a unique oppo opportunit rtunity y to sho show w the rest of the country that public use of face mapping and scanning is not an appropri ppropriate ate functio unction n of governm overnment in a free and open society. It is not onl only y a bad idea, but iits ts ti time me has not come.
After 9/11 In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/ 11, fa facial recog cogniti nition on iis s at the top o off the list as an anti nti--terrorism measure. One of the questio stions ns being asked is, ho how w much privacy and freedom arewewill willing ing to giv ive e up fo forr security? A more apt question is what are we going oing to get in in return ffor or what wegive up? IIn nE England, ngland, much has been giv iven en up and they have gotten otten little little in retur return n beyond a an n il illusion lusion o off safety ety.. Writing for the N Ne ewYork TimesMagazine(16), Georg Georgetow etown n University Law Prof Profes essor JJeff effre rey Rosen examined Great Britain’ Britain’s s useof publi public c monito monitoring ring and ffac acial recogniti recognition on as a terrorismterr orism-ffighting too tool. l. He ffound ound that, fa far from from catching terrorists, bio biome metric surveil illanc lance e is being used to “ “enforce enforce social co confo nform rmity” ity” and “keep punk punks s out of mall lls.” s.” It has also led to newlevel levels s of disho dishonest nest gov overnm ernment. In the early 90’s, the Iri Irish sh Rep Republica ublican nA Arm rmy y set o offf two large bombs in Londo London’s n’s financ financial district. distri ct. IIn n response a“Ring of Steel” systemof cameras was install installed ed at the entrances of the district. distri ct. And ffrom rom there it simply expanded. By 1998, 440 city centers werewired and today there are an estimated 2.5 mil illi lion on surveil surveillance lance cameras in B Brit rita ain llinked inked to various bi biometric ometric databases. A According ccording to Rosen, “ “By By o one ne esti tima mate, the averageBrit Briton on iis s now pho photogra tographed by 300 separate cameras in a singl single e day.” What has been the result? A According ccordingto a City of Lo London ndon press of offficer, “T “The he technology here is geared up to terrorism, the ffac act that that we’re getting ordi ordinar nary peopl people e — burglars steali ling ng cars — as a result of it is sort of a bonus.” Have they caught any terrorists? “No No,, not using this technology.” In the Lo London ndon boroug borough of N New ewham, things are worse. The monit monitori oring ng supervisor rvisor doesn’t know who goes into tthe he database, lo loca cal po poli lice ce chief chiefs s decide. But it do doesn’t esn’t seem to matter. According to the supervisor, “I’m I’m not in the business of having people arrested, the deterrent value has ffar ar exceeded anythi nything ng you iima magine.” Such deterrent val values ues in include clude posters exaggerati ting ng the capabili pabiliti ties es of the system: “T “The public st state atements about the ef effficacy of the Newhamfacial recogniti recognition on system bear li littl ttle e relatio lationship nship to it its s actual opera operati tional onal capabili bilities… ties…its its effec effectiv tivene eness, perhaps, iis s ba base sed on a lie.”
As tools such as face recognition and public scrutiny are debated as anti-te -terrorist measures, it should shoul d be remembered that A Ame mericans deserve better than il illusio lusions ns of safety and ffalse alse promises. On Sep ept. t. 20, Jo Jose seph At Atick, ick, CEO of Visio isionics nics Corporatio tion n (maker of Tampa’s FaceIt system) met with tthe he D Depa epartment o off Transportati nsportation on co comm mmit ittee tee tasked wit ith h making newairport secur curity ity recom recomme mendatio tions. ns. Accordingto A Atick, tick, FaceIt, iin n conjunction with airport sec security urity cameras, coul could d be linked, vi via a the Internet, tto o a federal moni monitori toring ng station and could alert of offficials to a match w withi ithin n seconds. He also added that virtuall virtually y any camera, anywherecoul could d be lilinked nked to tthe he system. ((17) 17) A As s can a “wide network of int intelli ellig gence databases.” (18) The poi point nt here is tw twoo-ffol old. d. First, that facial recog cogniti nition on is a potentially va valuab luable le tool ffor or airport security an and d antinti-terr terrorism. And second, if Mr. A Atick tick is correc correct, t, the noti notion on that the Colorado Col orado database “co “could uld allo allow w the public mov movem ements of every citi citizen zen in the state to be identiffied, ttra identi racked, recorded and stored” is real and could be do done ne fro from m a“federal monitoring station.” The heart o off the matter iis s what, or rather, who goes into the databases. Visionics Corporation has issued a White Paper detailing the elements of their proposed Vis anti-terrorist antiterrorist system. (19) IIn n it tthey hey expl xplain ain just what these databases shoul hould d contain, “Modif Modify y the boarding process to require an inst instanta antaneous terrorist background check on each passenger upon checkcheck-in in and bo boarding arding by searching faci facial al images again inst st iintel ntellilige gence databases of terrorists and their affil iliates.” iates.” It would be enti ntirely rely appropri ppropriate ate for the U.S. intell intelligenc igence and countercounter-terrorist terrorist fforces orces to use theirr reach and resources to put to thei toge gether jjust ust such a database, as it seems certain that so some me sort of biometr biometrics ics platfo platform rm wil illl be emp mplo loye yed a att airports. T The he u use se of existing police an and d surveillanc surveill ance powers to bri bring ng together the scattered knowledge of terrorists operating in and out of of the U.S. int into o a more seamless system seems sorely needed. But thi this s should should not be used as a reason tto o push ahead with th the eD DMV MV fface acepri print nt database. Moreov oreover, er, Co Colo lorad rado should be seeking assurances that tthe he ffede ederal government iis s not planning to use its o ow wn “ “of offficial ffunc unction” tion” access to the D DM MV data to use the existi xisting ng d digita igitall photos phot os and associ ssociate ated inf informa ormati tion on tto o make their own “f “fac aceprint” database. Terrorists and their aff affil iliates, iates, yes, defi definit nitely ely facemap them. But not all llicensed icensed Col Colorada oradans ju just because the technology exists. The Great Brit Britain ain experience also brings up the questio stion n of eff efficacy. icacy. Wil Willl mapping the faces of license licenseapplicants stop tthe he issuance of mult ltipl iple e li license censes to the sameperson using the same picture? In his article, JJeff effre rey Rosen points o out ut tha thatt in in a recent docum documenta entary about CCT CCTV V, actor JJohn ohn Cleese fool fooled ed a Vi Visio sionics nics ffac ace recognit nitio ion n system by wearing a fake beard and earrings. ((16) 16) But it is is not jjust ust British comedian dians sw who ho question tthe he reli lia ability bility o off facia ciall recog cogniti nition. on. Last year, according to JJim im Wayman, di director rector of the Natio National nal Bio Biome metric T Test est Center at San Jo Jose State University, a DO DOD-f D-fu unded test of commercially available face recognition systems failed a third of the time and adds there is a majo jorr probl problem em with ffalse alse positi positives, ves, where a match iis s signaled when iin n ffac act there there is none. (20) T The he T Tam ampa Super Bowl experiment
reportedly made 19 matches against a databaseof kno reportedly known wn criminals, but accordi according ng to the Walll Street JJo Wal ournal, an unknown number of tho those se matches were false. Accordi ccording ng to a Tampa Detective who w worked orked on the test, “ “II lo looked oked at some of those side-byby-side side pictures (a picture of the ffoo ootball tball ffan an next tto o tthe he picture fro from m the database) and they weren’t tthe he same person.” (20) According to the experts, facial recognition works best in tightly controlled, well-li Acc -lit situations, situatio ns, such as the taking of dri drivers’ vers’ li licens cense photos. But even here, the best just isn’ isn’tt ve very good. According to An Aniil Jain, a Computer Vis Vision Professor at Michigan State University, Univ ersity, tthe he system can be ffoo ooled led by beards, by di diffferent hairstyles, and wearing glasses. (20) Similarly, Juli Julia an A Ashbourn shbourn,, au author thor of “Advan “Advance ced IIde dentity V Ver erif ification” ication” claims the technology technolo gy can be fo fool oled ed by li lig ghti hting ng and the angle of the face. (21) A facial recognition study by the National Ins Institute of Standards and Technology (22) fou found that photos photos of the same person taken 1 ½ years apart had a false rejectio rejection n rate of 43%. Professor Prof essor Jain also cl cla aims that the aging process can easil sily y ffoo ooll tthe he sof softwa tware. In ot other her words, whil while e the Colo Colora rado pl plan an may result in catching teenagers seeking ffa ake ID ID’s ’s to party with, those wil willi ling ng to change their appearance or who have aged may have li littl ttle e to worry about. As with most technology, face recognition will probably improve over time and, as Professor Takeo K Kana anade of Carnegie Mellon ellon Univ University ersity tol told d the theWal Walll Street JJou ournal, after substantial federal mon money ey has been commit ommitted ted to make that happen. But as we all kno know, w, wehave a bi big g problem probl em right now. Technolo echnolog gy can be a valuable too too.. It can also be acrutch. As has been noted by some in the intelligenc intelligence community, part of the problem over the years, brought painf infull ully y to light, light, has been adependenceon ttechnol echnology ogy and electro electroni nic c surveil surveillance lance at the expense of human int intelli ellig gence: eyes and ears on the ground. Some of the pieces put together as to the obtaining of ID’s by the terrorists of 9/ 11 point to do docum cument fraud and graft, such as the useof briber bribery y to o obta btain aff affidavits idavits an and d pre-notarized forms (23 (23)) and thetheft o off foreign identiti identi ties es and fo forg rged INS documents (such as the form II-94). 94). It is not clear that face mappi pping ng is the answer to such probl problems. ems. No Norr does it address other other such is issues sues as computer-g computergenerated fake ID ID’s, ’s, o orr li license censes made fro from m stolen D DM MV materials (scandalously common). It would be a tragedy to ffind ind a false sense of security iin n an unproven and experimental hi hi--tech system whil hile e the bad guys use lo low w-tech means to beat tthe he system. State agenci ncies es have lilimited mited resources. It seems that what is needed is no nott more uncertain technology technolo gy, but more realal-li liffe investi investiga gators with adequate resources to protect the physical security o off DMV materials and catch the fforger orgers, ffra rauds and thi thieves eves before they can acquire bogus bu butt soli solidd-lo looking oking original ID ID’s. Once they have that, they have littl little e to fea fearr from having havi ng thei theirr fface aces mapped.
Endnotes (1) Denver Post, JJuly uly 15, 2001 “A “Approval pproval of facia ciall mapping reviewed” ed” (2) Joi oint nt Statement of Ho House use Majori ajority ty Leader Dick A Arme rmey and the American Civ Civil il L Liberti iberties es Union (3) News4Jax, D Don’t on’t sm smil ile, e, you’re on ca candid ndid camera 08/ 09/ 2001 (4) The Virginia irginia--Pilot, Pilot, July 27, 2001 “B “Bea each poli police ce win grant to scan faces” (5) Wi Wired red News, March 14, 2001, “Smilile, e, your on scan camera” (6) “Short histo history ry of the social secu security rity number” Compu Computer ter Professionals fo forr Social www.cpsr.org Responsibility, www.cpsr.org (7) Detroit Free Pr Pres ess 07/ 31/ 2001 “Cops tap databa tabase to ha hara rass, inti intimida midate” (8) Detroit Free Press 0 08/ 8/ 01/ 2001 “Penalties lties uneven ffor or data data misuse” (9) (10) Wi Wired red News, July 31, 2001, “ “Fac Face scanners turn lens on selves” (11) CFR, Titl itle e 20, Chap.111, Subpart C, sec.401.120 (12) Michael Hyatt “ “Y Your priv privac acy for for sale” morepriv moreprivac acy.com Sept, 10, 2001 (13) Wired Wired News, Sep. 7, 1999, “Smile ffor or the U.S. Secret Service” vice” http:/ / dlis.gseis.uc is.ucla.w la.wdu du// peoplw/ pagre/ barr-code code.htm .htmll (14)http:/ (14) (15) San A Antoni ntonio oL Lightning, ightning, A Aug ugust 28, 2001, “ “S S.A .A.. Po Poli lice ce conf confirm irm they have face recognitio ognition n so sofftware” (16) The The NewYork T Times imes Magazine, O October ctober 7, 2001, “ “A A Cauti tionary onary Tale ffor or a NewAge of Surveillanc illance” (17) Washingto ton n Post Post,, Sept.24, 2001, “Fac “Facial recogniti recognition on system consi onsidere dered ffor or U.S. airports” (18)(19) “ “Protecting Protecting civi civili lization zation ffrom rom thefaces of terror: A primer on the role ole fac facial ial recognit nitio ion n technolo technolog gy can play in iimprovi mproving ng airport security” .visionics.c nics.com/ om/ newsroom sroom// downloads/ whitep hitepa aper/ coun counter terterrorism.pdf http:/ / www.visio (20) Wall Street JJournal, ournal, T Technolo echnology gy Jo Journa urnal, B11, Sept. 27, 2001, Face Recogniti cognition on Technology Questioned” (21)http:/ (21) http:/ / hom homep epa age.n e.ntlworld.c tlworld.com/ om/ author uthor.htm .htm (22)http (22) http:/ :/ / dod dodcou counte nterd rdru rug g.com/ fac facia ialre lrecognition/ DLs/ feret7 t7.pd .pdf f (23) Ya Yahoo D Da aily ily News, O Oct. ct. 9, 2001, “Hij “Hija ackers’ IID D’s Prompt Scrutiny”