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FBI makes facial recognition available to local police forces


The facial recognition project at the Federal Bureau of Investigation will soon be made available to local law enforcement agencies across the United States. The FBI plans to expand its pilot project, “Universal Face Workstation”, by offering the client software to other local law enforcement agencies during the summer. The new software will be given out free of charge and will enable local police forces to conduct facial searches with very little resource requirements or investments.

The project was initially launched last February in Michigan. Since then, several other states have joined in the pilot project such as Hawaii, Maryland and South Carolina who have all entered into a memorandum of agreement with the FBI. Two other states, Ohio and New Mexico are in the middle of discussions to sign MOU agreements to join the facial recognition pilot project, while five other states namely Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, Tennessee and Nebraska have expressed their desire to participate in the program.

The FBI’s pilot project aims to help local authorities search through a repository of mug shots taken from criminals during the time of booking. It is essentially a huge database that holds about 13 million criminal mug shots. It is important to note that some states in the country allow law enforcement agencies to gather biometric data from arrested citizens who have not been convicted of a crime. This biometric data can either be a mug shot or photo, DNA samples or fingerprints.

The project however is under review by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law as several lawmakers have expressed apprehension about the program.

Will the FBI’s Universal Face Workstation be fully deployed to all states by 2014?

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