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The California DMV wants to quietly implement a new software technology that has drawn heavy criticism from privacy groups

Although the state of California has major money issues and will close DMVs every Friday, it looks like the DMV is interested in using new facial recognition software that has drawn major concern from privacy groups.

The proposed five-year, $63 million contract allows the DMV to use computer software to compare an applicant's photo taken at the agency against other images in the DMV database -- in theory; it'll be used to help prevent identity theft against people who have a driver's license.

"What this would allow law enforcement to do is scan a crowd of folks, check that image against the database and have their names and addresses," said American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) spokesperson Valerie Smalls.

Any time either state or federal government brings up biometrics, there is a collective groan from security experts, and this particular case is no different.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of California have joined forces with the ACLU to fight against the controversial software.

DMV officials said the police don't have "open access" to the database of drivers' information right now, and wouldn't suddenly have access to it if the DMV began using this software.  Currently, if a police officer need to look for a license holder's address or driving record, according to DMV officials, it must be requested through the DMV.

If the police wish to compare an image to the license database, they'll need to have approval before they'll have access to the system, the DMV said.

"We believe this new contract is in the best interest of the citizens; it is in the best interest of all of us," said Dennis Clear, DMV assistant director of legislation.

The contract is currently being fast-tracked and state officials could approve it as early as March, though controversy surrounding the contract and software will only continue to grow.  Critics are also concerned that it's being rushed so quickly, noting that the program can be funded while backers do not have to deal with public hearings.

All 25 million drivers in California could one day be included in the database.

Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Georgia already use similar controversial technology, with several other states interested in introducing the software.



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What's the problem?
By PrinceGaz on 2/5/2009 8:01:04 PM , Rating: -1
DMV... googles... Department of Motor Vehicles. Okay. Rather like the British DVLA.

What's wrong with using face-recognition technology to ensure you are who you say you are. If you're not committing crimes, then you can only benefit from this technology. As they say, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

Provided the project is well managed, it can only be of benefit to everyone covered by it.




RE: What's the problem?
By phxfreddy on 2/5/2009 8:10:34 PM , Rating: 4
You need to take your rose colored googles off.


RE: What's the problem?
By PrinceGaz on 2/5/2009 8:26:45 PM , Rating: 2
+1 to you, that's superb. Serious kudos.

I do sometimes play devil's advocate here (and certain other places) to get a good topic going, so don't necessarily assume that what I post is what I truly believe. I'm all for face-recognition being used by the police generally to catch criminals, so long as law-abiding citizens are not on the database. I've done nothing wrong (copyright violation isn't really wrong in my book- it's just a technicality), and would therefore not be on the database or have my privacy violated by the technology.


RE: What's the problem?
By MrBlastman on 2/6/2009 11:11:27 AM , Rating: 2
Of course you would be in the database if you have a drivers license... No matter if you are a criminal or not - you will be able to be identified. That identification could then be used to tie you to a crime, or in some other way against you.


RE: What's the problem?
By Steve1981 on 2/5/2009 8:35:36 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
What's wrong with using face-recognition technology to ensure you are who you say you are. If you're not committing crimes, then you can only benefit from this technology. As they say, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".


If we have a perfectly benevolent government run by angels, this wouldn't pose a problem. Unfortunately, governments tend to be anything but...


RE: What's the problem?
By GaryJohnson on 2/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: What's the problem?
By Steve1981 on 2/6/2009 8:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
but where's the potential for abuse in this particular instance?


Assuming that checks and balances remain on the actual use of the system, not much. However, it doesn't take much imagination to see how this type of technology can be abused by a government.


RE: What's the problem?
By mindless1 on 2/7/2009 2:41:01 PM , Rating: 2
I take picture of you, hang picture on window while driving away from bank robbery where I was formerly masked. Cameras of course ID you if they do what they are supposed to, or maybe I have to go to the trouble of making a mask.

Either way, now they have "proof" you were there, cameras are more reliable than your friends or family that you'd normally spend time with, they have a reason to lie on your behalf.


RE: What's the problem?
By callmeroy on 2/6/2009 1:26:00 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
If we have a perfectly benevolent government run by angels, this wouldn't pose a problem. Unfortunately, governments tend to be anything but...


Hmm..you could have fooled me -- on innaugaration day, with the fuss made over Obama you'd think he was the seconding coming of the big man himself.....


RE: What's the problem?
By AlexWade on 2/5/2009 10:42:45 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
"if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"


The founding fathers would take issue with that. The United States was founded on preventing the fallacy of that argument.


RE: What's the problem?
By chmilz on 2/6/2009 11:41:44 AM , Rating: 2
I have nothing to hide yet I still own clothes, blinds, have a lock on my door, tinted windows in my car, passwords on my computer...

Why? It's called privacy. Just because I'm innocent doesn't mean I want others to scrutinize and dissect my life. I'd rather the world was anarchy than a totalitarian police state.


RE: What's the problem?
By Kougar on 2/6/2009 4:12:22 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. If all they are doing is comparing new photos to those already in their photo database, then what is the problem?

The DMV maintains a photo database regardless for future use. If someone was using my photo on a fake license then I'd like them to catch the person cold. All the article mentions is the DMV would use their own database, not some other outside agency or start a new one.


RE: What's the problem?
By Ray 69 on 2/6/2009 8:13:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If someone was using my photo on a fake license then I'd like them to catch the person cold.

If someone was using your picture on a fake license they wouldn't need the DMV's photo database as the picture on the fake license wouldn't match the face of the person using it, unless of course he was your twin.


RE: What's the problem?
By therealnickdanger on 2/6/2009 10:05:01 AM , Rating: 2
A real problem is like the one we have up here in Minnesota. Illegal Mexicans are stealing (or forging) identities left and right and getting multiple DUIs, then when they get their license suspended and spend a night in detox, they go right back to the DMV and get a new license under a different name. With facial recognition software, these people could be flagged before being issued another license. The on-site staff could then do extra work to verify his identity... Not that our f*cked up system would ever deport him anyway, but at least he wouldn't get a legal license... but then obviously he could still drive and get booze... but whatever.


RE: What's the problem?
By murphyslabrat on 2/6/2009 11:11:33 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure if you're trying to illustrate the ludicrousness of using facial-recognition software, or seriously defending it.

In case of the latter, to do what you describe, they would have to get a new social-security number and a new birth certificate, both under their new name. Or, they would have to go through the immigration process all over again, obtaining a green-card under a different name (assuming the reproduction of all necessary Mexican documents).

In light of that, I would challenge anyone here to come up with a single instance where this technology would protect anyone, as it is proposed for the DMV.


RE: What's the problem?
By Aloonatic on 2/6/2009 4:19:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
"if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"

Please post a blog of all of your bank statements and "private" correspondence for all of us to read. Someone will be around to put cameras in every room of your house which will be streamed live on the internet for all to see. Extra capacity for the bathroom toilet cams for the Japanese market will be catered for, do not worry.

Failure to comply can mean only one thing, you have something to fear. Probably because you are funding terrorism, witting love letters to Bin-Ladin and making bombs in your living room.

Please stay were you are the correct authorities will be around to pick you up, who will then render you to a friendly nation to have the truth persuaded out of you.

Whilst you are waiting, please take a look at our range of orange jumpsuits and shackle accessories. You have the right to remain fabulous, but that's about it.

As long as you have nothing to hide that is.


RE: What's the problem?
By grcunning on 2/6/2009 8:25:57 AM , Rating: 1
The Nazis would have absolutely loved this technology.
Because, as you mentioned

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Always trust the government, they have your best interest in mind.


RE: What's the problem?
By Reclaimer77 on 2/7/2009 1:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Nazis would have absolutely loved this technology. Because, as you mentioned


Yeah because people who rounded up and attempted to exterminate an entire race would really be interested in facial recognition...

/sarcasm


"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis











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