FBI Spends $1 Billion On Nationwide Facial Recognition Program

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Privacy is dead. The Internet made sure of that a long time ago. It just takes a little snooping and people will be able to find all kinds of dirt on you. Even if our online identity is compromised, we can at least rest easy knowing that our physical appearance is still unknown to the masses, right?

A report out of NewScientist reveals that the FBI is now beginning to roll out its $1 billion Next Generation Identification program. The program includes facial recognition software, iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification. There was a report earlier that said the FBI would also create a tattoo database, but its unclear if that's part of the same program. The program is being rolled out now and will be up across the entire nation by 2014.

The program is obviously drawing tons of ire from privacy and civil rights proponents, but will the program actually help catch criminals? The FBI sure seems to think so as the software uses an algorithm to match faces up with criminal faces that they have on record. The software is reportedly even capable of picking criminals out of a crowd.

The cause for concern comes from the FBI not being exactly open about the new technology. For now, they only have the faces of criminals in their database. What's to stop them from collecting the faces of civilians though? What if the algorithm picks out the wrong person and the FBI ends up ruining the life of a completely innocent person?

The cause for concern comes from how algorithms are currently used. Over the past two weeks, YouTube's algorithm for catching copyrighted content flagged and took down live streams for the DNC and the Hugo Awards. Surely the FBI would use a far more sophisticated algorithm, right?

Either way, your privacy has been dead for a long time. You already give to Facebook what the FBI wants out of this new software. All they really have to do is monitor Facebook for criminals. Most criminals appear to be stupid enough to use social networking sites while they're in the act.

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