FBI Unveils $1 Billion Facial Recognition System

The FBI is reportedly about to implement a nationwide face recognition system that is designed to upgrade the Bureau's fingerprint database and help fight crime. The Next Generation Identification (NGI) program comes at a cost of $1 billion and is scheduled to be operational in 2014.

The basic feature set is to immediately scan mugshots for matches in a database, but the system is also capable of taking pictures of people in a crowd and using them against a database, or using publicly available pictures for scans. In effect, the system is evolutionary of the fingerprint data base held by the FBI today. It would be reasonable to assume that this system will be widely deployed and used even in rather unsuspecting environments of the DOJ's Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which today relies solely on fingerprints of immigrants.

According to an article published by New Scientists, the algorithm used by the software was able to pick the right person in a mugshot comparison 92 percent of the time. The image pool of the FBI held about 1.6 million images at the time of this evaluation, which happened in 2010.

It is also reasonable to assume that there will be some form of protest against this database and imaging system if the idea expands to public surveillance cameras and eventually targets everyone. As much as someone may argue that the system improves our safety, an omnipresent surveillance is creepy and very reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984.


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    Top Comments
  • icepick314
    and it's defeated by $5 novelty plastic mustache glasses...
  • outlw6669
    92% accurate, 8% rate of false identification.
    Yeup, no chance that this will cause any issues....
  • beardguy
    F'ing waste of taxpayer money. So long to another piece of freedom.

    News flash: This system will be abused.
  • Other Comments
  • dextermat
    FBI should write a book: How to waste 1 billion of tax payers money.... even if technology is cool!
  • xurwin
    why not pour it all on the R&D department and make some cool batman or james bond kind of items. that would be pretty sweet and helpful of course. they could make a Batman to save almost everybody. 1billion is alot of cash though
  • TeraMedia
    Great. Now we'll have to watch a sequel with Shia LeBoeuf running all over the countryside, unwittingly helping execute a plot to kill people. Except this time, it won't be the Air Force's system but rather the FBI's.

    Now if they connect this technology up to peoples' camera phones, that could be truly scary. Who needs a tinfoil hat when you can wear a prosthetic nose.