US police perpetual facial line-up

October 2016
Updated: November 2021

A report by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology finds law enforcement agencies across the US can access the facial photos of over 117 million US adults stored in government datasets, raising serious questions about privacy and poor transparency.

Based on over 100 information requests, the researchers reveal the FBI, state and local police departments are using or building facial recognition systems to compare the faces of suspected criminals to their driver’s license and ID photos in a mostly opaque and unregulated manner.

Moreover, few agencies have instituted 'meaningful protections' to prevent misuse of the technology, the report states.

Operator: Chicago PD, Dallas PD, LAPD
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Country: USA
Govt - police
Purpose: Identify criminals
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy; Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - racial, ethnicity
Opacity: Black box; Governance