ACLU against FBI request to access Ohio facial recognition database

September 7, 2016 - 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has recommended that the state denies the FBI from accessing its law-enforcement database due to privacy concerns over facial recognition technology, according to a report by AllGov.

Public records requests have revealed email exchange between the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and the FBI discussing access to the state’s OHLEG database.

In a letter sent Monday to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the ACLU of Ohio addressed its concerns regarding the FBI’s potential access to the state’s facial recognition information.

ACLU of Ohio chief lobbyist Gary Daniels said that the move would allow the FBI to access millions of photographs from various sources such as drivers’ licenses and criminal mug shots.

He also questioned the FBI’s uses of face recognition technology and its alleged disregard for public privacy.

Both of these issues are addressed in an 82-page report that the U.S. Office of Government Accountability provided to the Senate back in May.

The report discusses in greater detail the FBI’s increasing use of face recognition technology and explains how the agency has not adequately addressed privacy and accuracy in its practices.

The report mentions issues such as the FBI’s failure to adequately determine error rates, failure to test the reliability and accuracy of state databases, nonexistent and outdated privacy policies, lack of audits and transparency, and not notifying the public about its use of facial recognition technology.

“The FBI’s ongoing track record of widespread mass surveillance and blatant disregard for laws and policies meant to protect our privacy should, at the very minimum, give Ohio pause,” Daniels wrote in the ACLU letter to DeWine. “At the very least, this issue should be discussed around the state so all Ohioans have an opportunity to weigh in on this rapidly-moving expansion of data sharing.”

The GAO report revealed that the FBI currently has access to over 30 million images–the majority of which belong to those individuals without any criminal record–and has invested $55 million on face recognition technology since 2010.

The FBI currently has access to databases in Florida, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, and Arkansas.

The agency is currently partnering with eight more states to gain database access for face recognition searches, while an additional 24 states are said to be interested in plugging into the FBI’s database, the report said.

The FBI has not formally submitted any formal request to obtain access to OHLEG, but has inquired about it, according to a spokesperson for the Ohio attorney general.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.