Keeping a constant vigilance through facial recognition systems in the name of national security seems to be working for the United States, and we say “it seems” because the debate about privacy is still present, regardless of the fact that different organizations are struggling to stop it.
Despite the apparent good results that the implementation of facial recognition systems has brought, the reality is that they are still far from perfect, which has led to various problems derived from identification failures. Within all this, New York is one of the states that presumes to the whole country, and to the world, that the investment in this type of systems means a real change, although there is no clear proof of this.
More than 21,000 investigations opened for fraud
On Monday, August 21, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York, came out to confirm that since the increase in facial recognition systems in the streets was approved in January 2016, more than 21,000 cases have been opened due to possible theft. of identity, which has led to more than 4,000 arrests and more than 16,000 people with an ongoing investigation.
According to Cuomo, this technology has allowed them to reduce the rate of fraud, identity theft and other crimes, but above all to remove dangerous drivers from the streets, which in recent years had become a serious problem. This is due to the fact that it is relatively easy to buy identities of incarcerated persons that serve, for example, to process driver’s licenses.
The Department of Motor Vehicles of New York (DMV) has increased its ability to detect possible fraud thanks to facial recognition, which has been ideal to identify people trying to get a second license after yours was revoked or suspended for any lack of the law.
Despite these figures, the government of New York has not made public the data about people with defined sentences, something important knowing that today facial recognition still has many failures.
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A technology with many improvements ahead
Within all this, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published in August 2016 a new report that ensures that the facial recognition database of the FBI has 30 million similarities. Something very serious if we consider that most of these photographs belong to foreigners who applied for a visa, US citizens with a passport, the biometric database of the Department of Defense and licensing databases of 18 states.
That is, the FBI has taken photographs of more than 60% of Americans without their consent, which can be used without any type of court order or without having to show that there is a clear suspicion.
For its part, the Oversight Committee of the House of Representatives revealed that more than 80% of the people inside this large FBI database do not have detention records or violations of the law. It was even shown that the system used by the FBI yields erroneous data 15% of the time and that the identification of black women is the one that shows the most failures exceeding 50% of the consultations.
Interestingly, most Americans are not against this measure, since the rationale for national security has been enough to allow something like this to progress. In fact, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut are joining New York to have a unique database within the DMV, which will help identify people with multiple driver’s licenses.
On the other hand, Vermont demanded in May of this year a stop to the use of facial recognition in the DMV for traffic issues, this until a greater reliability of the system is guaranteed.