EFF sues FBI over facial-recognition records

The civil liberties group wants details on the FBI's efforts to build a new biometric database

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a lawsuit to force the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to turn over records about a facial-recognition database it is building.

The EFF, in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, asked the judge to require the FBI to respond to the civil liberties group's Freedom of Information Act requests about the agency's Next Generation Identification (NGI) biometrics database, scheduled to launch in 2014.

The new database is described as "bigger, faster and better" than the agency's current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, the EFF said in court documents. The new database will create a unique "face print" for each person included, the EFF said.

"Governmental use of face recognition -- and the potential for misuse -- raises many privacy concerns," EFF's lawyers wrote in court documents. Facial recognition allows identification of people in public and can be used to track people in public settings and on social networking sites, the EFF's lawyers wrote.

EFF also raised concerns about the accuracy of facial recognition, saying it depends on the quality of photographs.

"NGI will result in a massive expansion of government data collection for both criminal and noncriminal purposes," EFF staff attorney Jennifer Lynch said in a statement. "Biometrics programs present critical threats to civil liberties and privacy. Face-recognition technology is among the most alarming new developments, because Americans cannot easily take precautions against the covert, remote, and mass capture of their images."

The EFF's FOIA requests, filed in June and July of 2012, seek information about agreements and discussions between the FBI and state agencies regarding the face-recognition program, as well as records addressing the reliability of facial-recognition technology. The EFF also wants to see documentation about the FBI's plan to merge civilian and criminal records in a single repository.

The group also wants the FBI to disclose the number of facial-recognition records currently in its database.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentsecurityprivacylegalElectronic Frontier FoundationCivil lawsuitsU.S. Federal Bureau of InvestigationU.S. District Court for the Northern District of CaliforniaJennifer Lynch

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?