EFF said the FBI will have a fully operational face recognition database by this summer

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a facial recognition database that is expected to grow significantly in size, and will place civilians with non-criminal backgrounds in it as well.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the FBI's Next Generation Identification (NGI) database will hold 52 million photos by 2015, which is quite a boost from the 16 million held in the database in the middle of 2013.

EFF, which got its hands on some important documents, said that 4.3 million images in the database will include those with "non-criminal purposes." 

Further, the NGI database will be sorted a bit differently from the FBI's fingerprint database, which keeps criminal and non-criminal records separate. With the NGI database, criminal and non-criminal photos will be kept side-by-side. 


This means that a query to the fingerprint database will only return a criminal or non-criminal result based on which set of records your searching. For the NGI database, any and all results will be returned. 
A major question has been how the FBI will grab records and photos from civilians who have never been arrested. Some believe employers who require a background check or fingerprinting send the records to the FBI, which can be included in the civil database.
This will likely raise consumer privacy concerns, as those who have not been arrested for a crime will likely want to be kept out of the database unless they give the FBI a reason to be there (for example, getting arrested). 
The FBI, on the other hand, likely sees it as easy identification and authentication both online and offline. This could help them find anyone they may suspect in an investigative crime. 
EFF said the FBI would have a fully operational face recognition database by this summer.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

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