FBI Wants 52 Million of Us in Facial Recognition Database By 2015


Facial recognition

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's plan to tag and track us all is going swimmingly, from a creepy, voyeuristic perspective, according to federal documents. Released by the FBI in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the records reveal plans to stick the mugs of almost one in six Americans into the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program's facial recognition database by next year.

Combined with the more than 120 million faces in state databases and the feds' tolerance for a remarkably high false-positive rate, your chances of getting fingered for somebody else's misdeeds are getting pretty good.

According to Jennifer Lynch, Senior Staff Attorney with the EFF, the FBI plans to have 52 million photos in its database within months:

The records we received show that the face recognition component of NGI may include as many as 52 million face images by 2015. By 2012, NGI already contained 13.6 million images representing between 7 and 8 million individuals, and by the middle of 2013, the size of the database increased to 16 million images. The new records reveal that the database will be capable of processing 55,000 direct photo enrollments daily and of conducting tens of thousands of searches every day.

Those 52 million images will include a planned 4.3 million faces photographed for non-criminal purposes, but included solely for identification purposes. Searches will be run against all records in the database, no matter how they were obtained.

The sources for the images are varied, and a bit vague.

  • 46 million criminal images
  • 4.3 million civil images
  • 215,000 images from the Repository for Individuals of Special Concern (RISC)
  • 750,000 images from a "Special Population Cognizant" (SPC) category
  • 215,000 images from "New Repositories"

"The FBI does not define either the 'Special Population Cognizant' database or the 'new repositories' category," Lynch warns. "This is a problem because we do not know what rules govern these categories, where the data comes from, how the images are gathered, who has access to them, and whose privacy is impacted."

Also, identification is a tad dependant on getting it right, and that's not a certainty. Last year, the Electronic Privacy Information Center extracted a separate set of documents from the FBI revealing that federal specifications on the Next Generation Identifiication system facial recognition software allow for tagging "an incorrect candidate a maximum of 20% of the time."

Well, so long as it's no more than one in five, I guess that's OK.

NEXT: Edward Snowden's NSA Leaks Lead to Pulitzer Prize; Pension Crisis Also Noticed

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How soon before they start knocking down doors and shooting dogs based on false matches?

  2. (Another) serious question: How long before wearing “excessive makeup” or “unreasonable eyeglasses” is a crime?

  3. your chances of getting fingered for somebody else’s misdeeds are getting pretty good.

    That happened to me once in the locker room in Jr High.

    1. Are we still doing phrasing? No?

    2. That was you, Hugh?!?

      1. It definitely teaches you to keep your nails trimmed, if only out of courtesy to others.

        1. True, and it’s a good motivation to get your asshole bleached.

          1. The only thing I can think of is someone who has embarked on the career path of ‘asshole bleacher’ with nary a negative thought to the contrary.

            I wonder if they will have an episode on Dirty Jobs.

            1. Dee Reynolds: If we’re going to be meeting sophisticated men, we need to start acting with class. We cannot be telling people that we have bleached assholes.

              Artemis: He was gonna find out anyways…

  4. So…20% more false identifications and malicious prosecutions, then?

  5. Can’t have all your slaves citizens running around with no way to keep track of them * can we?

    * Except for license plates, NSA reading emails, phone calls, etc.

  6. I hope you guys are right about technology out pacing the regulatory police state. Maybe a Kickstarter can raise enough Bitcoin to fund an X-prize for developing a scramble suit.

    1. Damnit! I meant “for 3D printing a scramble suit”

      1. IR LED cap.

  7. Hopefully the bureau is off of XP by then.

    1. They may be up to Vista by that time.

  8. GoddAMMIT, git yer face in the GOP FaceMeter, GOP boys!



    1. Wrong website bro.

      1. Nope. The GOP = sister-boys.

    2. Right, because the Dems in congress are all fighting for our liberties, every day, especially Feinstein.

      1. and Obama – thank goodness he reigned in the NSA, starting day one!

        1. And he is like the mostest bestest ardent defender of the second amendment in the history of the world!

    3. You do realize Barack Obama has been president for over five years now, right?

    4. Shriek is just winding up for his blood moon pagan rituals

      1. The day that shreek went off the deep deeper end.

        1. You mean, “Same old, same old”?

          1. so deep that infinity is just the shallow end.

      2. Right after the 4th blood moon, that’s when Shreeky believes that Obama will finally be revealed as the true savior and ascend to his throne to righteously rule over all of us for a thousand years.

  9. Look, I grew up in Dogdick, Georgia back in the late 70s and 80s.

    We had it ALL, goddammit! I had a fucking 69′ Chevelle with a stick shift 396.

    That is a fucking fact. Freedom is just lipstick these days!

    1. don’t you mean 402? /pedantic

      The 454 LS6 was waaaay better.

      1. They were 396 ci in ’65-69. The overbored 402 shows up in ’70.

        When I was in HS SS 396 Chevelle’s were 10 y/o $600-900 cars.

        1. ah, I always thought that ’69 was the year…

          1. – now I remember, Chevy started doing this in late ’69 for the ’70 model years (derp to my middle-aged mind)

            btw- had a friend in HS with a 396 powered Vega. Lots of fun until the stock rear broke and the driveshaft twisted loose… thump-a-thump-a

  10. “From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River, or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.”

    1. It sickens me to see what these authoritarian fucks are doing to my country.

      1. Life isn’t a movie. Mankind might never — literally never — receive another chance at this kind of freedom again. And this is what we’ve done to what better men have left us.

        God forgive us for what we’ve done to our inheritance.

        1. I don’t believe in God and forgiveness is pointless.

          We are gonna have to suck it up and put our backs into fixing it.

          1. And it’s my hope and dream to see us succeed. And I just hope it works out that way.

            1. Sounds biased, obviously, coming from me. But libertarians are the only hope for this country. Either we somehow miraculously win, or we are fucked.

              1. The only way that is going to happen is through violent revolution.

                While I don’t yearn for that outcome, as JFK once said, the peaceful path back toward our more libertarian roots is blocked by so many people.

                1. I realize now I worded that quite terribly. I was invoking JFK’s quip about those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.

                  But I’m sure most of you could figure that out…

  11. Question for the room: Just mailed my taxes. The line at the post office was too long, so I did the little sel-help kiosk. Spit out my certified mail postage but the postage was too big for the envelope so I had to snake it around over the top. Now I’m kinda worried that it won’t get postmarked and delivered. And considering there’s a check in there to the IRS, did I just pretty much fuck myself?

    1. I imagine you’ll be fine…

      if not, I suggest Brazil

    2. I am certain that the USPS gives leeway on IRS mailings

      1. Ok, I just didn’t wanna cover up the address it was being mailed to, so the postage part that gets scanned is kinda off to the side. I just dropped it in the box and left because I have a crazy work day today and had to get back to the office and started freaking out after I left.

        Cuz I owe money. And I know they will hunt me down like a dog if they don’t get that check.

        I’ll check the tracking numbers tomorrow and pray that it shows in transit and a scan.

  12. The FB comments to this Vice article are hilarious – BUT ROADZ!

    Don’t Pay Your Taxes

    Conservatives like to think of April 15?Tax Day?as the date when hard-working citizens hand over half their paychecks to the federal government so it can buy hard drugs and an HD television for every deadbeat in America. Liberals believe something similar?that taxes redistribute income from the rich and powerful to everyone else?which helps assuage their guilt over calling the cops last Christmas on the homeless man outside their condo. Reality is less convenient for either faction: The vast majority of income taxes collected by the federal government isn’t going to the poor at all?unless prison now counts as public housing?but to a military that enjoys a budget just about equal to what the rest of the world spends on guns and bombs combined.

    1. Don’t cut the military. Cut everything else to zero, and we can remain the world’s hegemon.

    2. FB link, since the Vice comments are actually – ahem – a little more sane


    3. Except of course for the reality that around 2/3 of all federal outlays are spent on SS and MC/MC alone.

      1. Yeah, libs love to dodge that with the statement that “military spending is the biggest single item in the federal budget”. Which is true, as long as you count all the major welfare programs as seperate programs. If you lump all the welfare spending into one budget item, it’s the biggest by far.

      2. I don’t think it’s quite that high. We spent $814 billion last year on SS, including SSI, and $772 billion on Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. That comes out to $1.586 trillion, less than half of the budget. Both of those figures are still higher than the military which was $643 billion, which also includes international security assistance. That number doesn’t, however, include veteran’s benefits, and it’s unclear if it includes things like Homeland Security which are security-related but not part of the DoD.

        Combined, those three things total $2.229 trillion, which is close to 2/3rds of the budget, which was about $3.5 trillion

  13. I thought the already had this? Isn’t that what Facebook photo-tagging is for? What’s the point of all those webcams if the government can’t snap a surreptitious photo?

  14. Anyone notice the ongoing MSM blackout of the rancher story?

    1. Yup

      I figured Meet the Press would do a quick “Teabagger Militia!” scare segment on Sunday but the blackout held.

      1. They need to get something to work the narrative the way they want it.

        Like at Ruby Ridge, the feds shot the dog, and then the Weaver kid shot at the fuckers who killed his dog, like any good American would. Then they killed the kid, and the media was able to report that the brainwashed son of dangerous white supremacist Randy Weaver had fired on federal agents in the performance of their duty.

        At Waco they rolled up in horse trailers and pickups, and one of the feds unloaded with an SMG from the front seat. When ghetto trash do that, we call it a drive by. When feds do it, it’s just good police work. But the Branch Davidians shot back, and killed a couple, and then they had their excuse.

        You can’t just massacre people. You need to get an excuse lined up first. As long as there is some kind of story to feed the public, they can do whatever they want.

        I’m telling you, they’ll be back, they’ll raid his house, he’ll be killed going for a pistol, and they’ll find a meth lab or kiddy porn or bombmaking materials or something else that scares soccer moms. And this will all blow over.

        BLM are amateurs. ATF or FBI would have already had this sown up in a neat little bow.

    2. The feds backed down. The MSM can’t be embarrassing their masters.

      If the federal goon squads were burning women and children right now, the way it was supposed to go down, the MSM would have this story on 24/7 and they would all be dressed in cheer leader outfits, jumping up and down waving their pompoms over how they showed those terrorist ranchers who is boss.

    3. I saw a blip today on how Harry Reid had made the statement “This isn’t over yet” about it.

      I had previously not given much credence to the conspiracy theoryish stuff about him being behind it, but now I dunno. He was stupid enough to feel he had to weigh in on it as if he had something personal at stake.

      1. “He was stupid enough to feel he had to weigh in on it as if he had something personal at stake.”

        Clearly I need move vodka.

          1. try bath saltz instead

  15. So…when do they post the Independents thread?

    1. Didn’t we come to the unanimous conclusion that it was canceled?

      1. They’re bound to replace it with something else.

        The Yelling at People Show

        Abraham Lincoln – War Criminal

        Ow, My Balls!

        1. The Kennedy Equestrian Show

  16. Here’s the deal Fibbies:
    You can have your facial recognition data-base when the US Gov’t Printing Office has available for purchase a complete photo roster of your agents.

  17. This is likely a starting point:


    I can imagine in the not-too-distant future that the skin could be outfitted with digital makeup that isn’t obvious while projecting false data points based on holographic technology.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.