After six years and over one billion dollars in development, the FBI has just announced that its new biometric facial recognition software system is finally complete. Meaning that, starting soon, photos of tens of millions of US citizen's faces will be captured by the national system on a daily basis.
The Next Generation Identification (NGI) program will logs all of those faces, and will reference them against its growing database in the event of a crime. It's not just faces, though. Thanks to the shared database dubbed the Interstate Photo System (IPS), everything from tattoos to scars to a person's irises could be enough to secure an ID. What's more, the FBI is estimating that NGI will include as many as 52 million individual faces by next year, collecting identified faces from mug shots and some job applications. So if you apply for any type of job that requires fingerprinting, for instance, those prints (which will now also likely be asked for along with a photo) will be sent off to the government for processing.
Of course, the system isn't totally perfect yet, what with so many video cameras across the country not hitting the resolution necessary for accurate facial recognition. But that's not to say it doesn't work at all. Just a few weeks ago, a 14-year fugitive was finally captured after applying for a visa in Nepal. And that accuracy is only going to increase.
Since phase one was deployed in February 2011, the NGI system has introduced enhanced automated fingerprint and latent search capabilities, mobile fingerprint identification, and electronic image storage, all while adding enhanced processing speed and automation for electronic exchange of fingerprints to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorised criminal justice partners 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
As cameras get updated and more information gets injected into the already massive database, anonymity — and privacy as a whole — is about to become a whole lot harder to hold. [FBI]