According to new reports, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is planning to invest $1 billion in a new surveillance program that includes the installation of facial recognition cameras and the enhancement of existing fingerprint identification tools.
Called the Next Generation Identification (NGI) initiative, the program reportedly involves installing cutting-edge cameras along interstate highways and opens the door to pick out faces belonging to wanted criminals. It’s also possible such cameras could make their way to busy intersections in major U.S. cities.
This isn’t the first time the FBI has discussed widely expanding facial recognition systems in the U.S. Back in 2010 FBI forensic specialist Richard Vorder Bruegge explained that the agency desired to use facial recognition technology to “identify subjects in public datasets” and “conduct automated surveillance at lookout locations.”
Now, it appears that plan will come to fruition.
In addition to the expansion of facial recognition tools, the FBI will also be enhancing fingerprint and palm recording technology.
The FBI recognizes that the Next Generation Identification program will be controversial. That’s why it has announced that it will soon be hosting “a meeting of federal law enforcement and national security agencies with privacy and civil liberties groups to discuss various aspects of federal government uses of facial recognition technology.”
The FBI says such a meeting will take place sometime later this year.
For now, privacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are raising alarms. “It is impossible to tell exactly how the FBI plans to acquire and use facial recognition data now and in the future,” noted Jennifer Lynch, an attorney for the EFF.
“However, given the information in these new documents and the FBI’s broad goals for face recognition data, the time is right for laws that limit face recognition data collection.”