Well worth a read this morning if you’re interested in the intersection of government, law enforcement and privacy and civil liberties issues: A detailed Washington Post report on what is effectively becoming a national database of individual photos available for law enforcement use.
The faces of more than 120 million people are in searchable photo databases that state officials assembled to prevent driver’s-license fraud but that increasingly are used by police to identify suspects, accomplices and even innocent bystanders in a wide range of criminal investigations . . .
The increasingly widespread deployment of the technology in the United States has helped police find murderers, bank robbers and drug dealers, many of whom leave behind images on surveillance videos or social-media sites that can be compared against official photo databases.
But law enforcement use of such facial searches is blurring the traditional boundaries between criminal and non-criminal databases, putting images of people never arrested in what amount to perpetual digital lineups. The most advanced systems allow police to run searches from laptop computers in their patrol cars and offer access to the FBI and other federal authorities.
Click on the image below to visit an interactive version on the Post site, which gives you information by state as you hover your cursor.
Here are couple of the key slides that The Washington Post and the Guardian both published from the top secret PowerPoint that details the “PRISM” program that spies on foreign citizens via U.S. technology companies.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, the Custodian of Records shall produce to the National Security Agency (NSA) upon service of this Order, and continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this Order, unless otherwise ordered by the Court, an electronic copy of the following tangible things: all call detail records or “telephony metadata” created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls. . . .
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that no person shall disclose to any other person that the FBI or NSA has sought or obtained tangible things under this Order, other than to: (a) those persons to whom disclosure is necessary to comply with such Order; (b) an attorney to obtain legal advice or assistance with respect to the production of things in response to the Order; or (c) other persons as permitted by the Director of the FBI or the Director’s designee.
Over at Medill National Security Zone, we’ve launched a new dashboard with data resources, graphics and links to help you cover the major Veterans Benefits Administration backlog in processing disability claims. Particular credit goes to the great staff at the Center for Investigative Reporting, which has done yoeman’s work staying on top of this issue, along with gathering a pile of data and creating a pile of code that makes it all broadly available. (Such as the interactive graphic, below). Here are links to our new dashboards: