FBI Tested ‘Truly Unconstrained’ Facial Recognition Software on Americans

facial recognition

New documents reveal that the FBI has been testing artificially intelligent (AI) facial recognition software on Americans for almost a decade.

According to The Washington Post, thousands of pages of internal documents show how closely the FBI and Defense officials worked with academic researchers to refine AI techniques that could help in the identification or tracking of Americans without their awareness or consent.

The internal documents reveal that U.S. federal agencies wanted to develop “truly unconstrained” facial recognition tools that could be used in subway and public street cameras, mobile drones, and police body cameras.

The advanced technology would be able to quickly detect and accurately process face imagery recorded by surveillance cameras in public places and detect targets from up to 1,000 meters away.

The research program, which is code-named “Janus,” would allow the U.S. government to identify and track millions of people at a time.

Funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, (IARPA) which is a high-level research arm of the U.S. intelligence community, the Janus program dates back to 2014. It was set up with the goal of “radically expanding the scenarios in which automated face recognition can establish identity.”

According to The Washington Post, the internal documents were unveiled in the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) ongoing lawsuit against various U.S. agencies over its secretive use of facial recognition technology.

In 2019, ACLU sued the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration for records detailing their use of facial-recognition software, arguing that the agencies have secretly implemented an “unprecedented” nationwide surveillance technology that threatens Americans’ privacy and civil rights.

“The year is 2023, but we are living through 1984. The continued proliferation of surveillance tools like facial recognition technologies in our society is deeply disturbing,” Democrat Senator Edward J. Markey tells The Washington Post.

“Biometric data collection poses serious risks of privacy invasion and discrimination, and Americans know they should not have to forgo personal privacy for safety.”

PetaPixel previously reported on “co-appearance” surveillance camera technology that can find out who a person’s friends are and is used by the Chinese government to track citizens is now available in the U.S.

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