American law enforcement has been secretly using a facial recognition program that can be used to ID activists and protesters.
The first-ever acknowledgment of the program was recently revealed by the Washington Post.
“The court documents are believed to be the first public acknowledgment that authorities used the controversial technology in connection with the widely criticized sweep of largely peaceful protesters ahead of a photo op by President Trump.”
Two things make this troubling.
One, it appears to be used by law enforcement nationwide.
As the Washington Post explains, “The case is one of a growing number nationwide in which authorities have turned to facial recognition software to help identify protesters accused of violence.”
And two, this secret law enforcement facial recognition database contains images of at least 1.4 million Americans.
“The case also provides the first detailed look at a powerful new regional facial recognition system that officials said has been used more than 12,000 times since 2019 and contains a database of 1.4 million people but operates almost entirely outside the public view. Fourteen local and federal agencies have access.”
This new facial recognition program is called the “National Capital Region Facial Recognition Investigative Leads System” (NCRFRILS).
1,000 Law Enforcement Agencies Could Have Access to 1 Billion Public Records
The Washington Post claims that only 14 local and federal agencies have access to NCFRILS. This could be off by as many as a thousand law enforcement agencies.
Page 10 of an “NCIS Law Enforcement Exchange” – Northrop Grumman’s Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX) agency training program reveals that there are over one thousand law enforcement agencies that have access to more than one billion records. It is anyone’s guess as to how many images of people’s faces they have access to.
Page 14, is a little more revealing. It basically shows that the entire country is covered by the LInX network.
A little more on LinX:
“With Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX), users will retrieve and link more available data than ever before to support their investigative and tactical operations. LInX correlates and identifies hidden data and linkages across multiple jurisdictions, bringing them front and center for authorized users to see.”
One thing is certain, NCFRILS or LInX definitely uses facial recognition to identify hidden data. As Northrop Grumman said, its major focus appears to be bringing an activist or protester’s ID to the front and center for authorized users to see.
A National Capital Region-Law Enforcement Information Exchange (NCR-LInX) meeting from 2013 revealed a map of more than 127 agencies spread across Baltimore, Maryland., Washington D.C., and Virginia.
One thing is clear, the Washington Post’s estimates are way off as page 5 revealed.
The “National Capital Region Facial Recognition Investigative Leads System” appears to be part of NCR-LInX which means by 2013 estimates that there were 1,251 law enforcement agencies with 1,051 agencies providing data in 38,000 regions. Each of these law enforcement agencies had access to close to 46,000 mugshots, which we can safely assume is tied to facial recognition.
As the Washington Post warns, this is disastrous for activists and protestors.
“The use of facial recognition to identify protesters and the secrecy surrounding NCRFRILS has troubled activists and privacy advocates, who said it could have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights and leave defendants unable to challenge a match since its use is not disclosed in the vast majority of cases.”
All indications point to NCFRILS being a much larger facial recognition program than what we are being led to believe. Despite what law enforcement claims, police are also using it to ID people for misdemeanors.
“Detroit police were using the technology when they misidentified a Black man in a shoplifting case, although it appears sloppy investigative work also played a role, experts said. A version of one of two facial recognition algorithms the Detroit police were running also powers NCRFRILS.”
It appears that NCFRILS is indeed much larger than what is being reported and might even be accessible to police departments across the country; making NCFRILS a national facial recognition program.
What will it take for Americans to stop trusting government officials who claim secret public surveillance programs are necessary to fight the never-ending War On Terror?
Will it take a national license plate reader network, or a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol national cellphone monitoring program, or a national Fusion Center Wi-Fiber monitoring network, or finally a national law enforcement facial recognition program for Americans to wake up and see that our government treats everyone with suspicion?
This article was originally published at MassPrivateI.
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