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NSA collects facial recognition quality images from intercepted communications: report

The NSA has been harvesting images from communications it intercepts for facial recognition processing. This according to a report in the New York Times.

According to the report, quoting top-secret documents, the NSA intercepts millions of images per day, including more than 50,000 facial recognition quality images. The NSA, which once only focused on written and oral communications, “now considers facial images, fingerprints just as important to its mission of tracking suspected terrorist and other intelligence targets, the documents show.”

It is unclear how many people have been caught up in this effort, the report notes.

This issue is particularly controversial, as privacy laws don’t currently provide protections for facial recognition data.

Also from the New York Times report, the NSA has reportedly developed ways to integrate facial recognition programs with a range of other databases. In particular, it intercepts video teleconferences, uses airline passenger data and also collects photographs from national identity card databases.

According to a recent market report, the global market for facial recognition is projected to grow at a 24.5 percent CAGR between 2012 and 2016.

Biometrics Research Group lead analyst Rawlson King recently took a close look at revelations of U.S. spying, including the PRISM program.  

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