October 19, 2016

All Posts, News


Yesterday, the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law School released a 150 page report titled The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America.

The report found that half of American adults, more than 117 million people, are in a law enforcement network of facial recognition databases. About one in four local and state police departments have access to a facial recognition database and police departments in most states can search facial recognition databases comprised of state mandated identification cards and drivers licenses.

Currently four states (Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, and Nevada) require residents to carry identification cards. Twenty-four states have so-called “Stop and Identify” laws that allow police to demand identification from any person if the cop can invent a “reasonable articulable suspicion” of wrongdoing.


The use of facial recognition databases is almost completely unregulated. Fifty-two police agencies told Georgetown they used facial recognition databases. Only one of those police forces had legislative authority to use the photo database and only one audited officers’ facial recognition database searches for abuse. None of the police agencies obtained search warrants. Many agencies did not require an officer to have a reason to search the databases of faces beyond morbid curiosity.

Alvaro Bedoya, one of the authors of the study, thinks “Innocent people don’t belong in criminal databases. By using face recognition to scan the faces on 26 states’ driver’s license and ID photos, police and the FBI have basically enrolled half of all adults in a massive virtual line-up. This has never been done for fingerprints or DNA. It’s uncharted and frankly dangerous territory.”


The principle legal problem with the databases is that they seem to institutionalize generalized searches. James Madison wrote the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which is the Amendment that protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, in reaction to Colonial “writs of assistance:” Documents that authorized suspicionless, police fishing expeditions that went from house to house looking for evidence of sedition or tax evasion. Some scholars think those oppressive searches were the primary grievance that led to the American Revolution.

Georgetown thinks the databases also threaten Americans’ First Amendment rights. The First Amendment is the one that ensures that Americans can say what they damn please, with whom they please and in public. It is likely that the databases are being used to identify participants in peaceful demonstrations. For example last week, the ACLU alleged that the Baltimore Police Department used face recognition to identify participants in both violent and peaceful protests in May 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray.

Georgetown also questions the accuracy of the databases.

You can read the complete report online here.

Or you can download a copy of the complete report here.


12 Responses to “Smile”

  1. Fr. Abraham Says:

    Rebel, love your reporting, especially on issues such as this. Just wanted to clarify something. There is nowhere in the US, currently, that requires a person to carry a state-issued ID card while simply being in public. Some states do have “stop and identify” statutes (thankfully, my home state of TX does not!), and some of these states have more stringent laws than others, but even in states where a person is required to identify himself he is allowed to do so verbally.

    Cops are fond of attempting to convince people to the contrary, or as in my case are just too fucking stupid to know better, but a person is not required to present an ID card unless he’s driving or otherwise engaging in a specific act defined by state legislature (carrying a gun, working in a profession requiring a license, etc)…but in situations where a person is merely in public, even in states that require a person to identify himself, verbal identification is legally sufficient.

  2. Dasein Says:

    on the “bright side”, apparently 1/2 of all Calif DLs last year were issued to illegal aliens. The pro-immigrant progs-in-power won’t know which way to twist when these folks start showing up as “wanted”. Now if only the BLMers would all get “properly licensed”…

  3. Kat Says:

    “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

  4. Angry White American Says:

    My son was pulled over driving my truck the other day. The officer was another fine San Bernardino County Sheriff’s jackass deputy. The jackass officer had no reason to pull him over. There was no traffic offense. The truck registration and insurance were full up to date as the jackass officer knew before pulling him over. The jackass officer took his documents and returned shortly thereafter asking who is XXXXXX XXXXXXX? To which my son responded why? The jackass officer stated there was a warrant out for my arrest. A BOLD FACE FUCKING LIE. My son responded; “for what”. The jackass officer did not answer but changed the subject by asking my son why his tongue was so white. “Uh, I dunno” The jackass officer then asked why he had a clear piece of plastic on the floor. “Uh, it’s a candy wrapper?” The jackass officer sent him on his way.

    San Bernardino County Sheriff Jackass Deputy T. Quzck badge 07871

  5. TX_Biker Says:

    War is when the government tells the people who the enemy is. Revolution is when the people figure it out for themselves…..

  6. Bubblehead Says:

    Oh, but it’s for your “protection”. It will keep children “safe”. It will stop “climate change”. You voted for it Amerika, now shut the fuck up and pay your taxes!

    Ride free brothers.

  7. Sieg Says:


    Once again, I keep saying it-the Constitution is dead. The FedCoats keep just enough of it around to be able to hide behind it, and claim it’s still the law, but in reality, they are all Mao-ized-all their power comes from the barrel of a gun.


  8. panamaa Says:

    It is indeed 1984 all over again, as Yogi would say…

    Good article Rebel… Thanks..

  9. Coates Says:

    The police state is real, and it gets closer to home every day. It’s not a very long walk at all from warrant less facial recognition to unwarranted detention on suspicion of “racketeering ” or “unAmerican activities” or whatever bullshit label they put on it. Sadly, stomping on the bill of rights seems to have become standard operating procedure for pretty much everyone in authority, and it can only end in tyranny or revolution.

    Live free or die

  10. Brad H Says:

    From another article found @ the Intercept, the fbi is attempting to exempt biometric identifiers, DNA,fingerprints, facial recognition and so forth, from certain provisions of the Privacy Act so they can search for and identify individuals of “interest”. Also, the feebs admit they allow a 20% error rate for these indentifcations.

    Imagine a 20% chance you may be misidentified for an action (crime) you may not have committed. Our tax dollars working against us again!

    And, oh yeah, Fuck waco

  11. tiopirata Says:

    And here we were thinking Orwell’s “1984” was a warning rather then a blueprint. Of course technologies will be misused by the state to our disadvantage, the trick for us is to figure out how to also use technology to our own advantage.

Leave a Reply