NSA targeted facial recognition has increased the last four years after documents were obtained from Edward Snowden informing the nation of this. MSN reports June 2 that technology has advanced to identify facial images, but the NSA was allegedly using new software to "exploit a flood of images included in intercepted emails, text messages, social media posts, video conferences and other communications."
Leaked 2011 documents state that the NSA intercepts "millions of images per day," that also includes 55,000 "facial recognition quality images."
The report goes on to say that images represented "tremendous untapped potential." The report adds that "NSA officials believe advances in technology could revolutionize the way the agency finds intelligence targets."
“It’s not just the traditional communications we’re after: It’s taking a full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind in their regular activities on the net to compile biographic and biometric information” that can help “implement precision targeting,” a 2010 document quoted by the news source read.
It's not known how many people are part of this, but privacy and surveillance laws in the US don't provide specific protection against facial images. An NSA spokeswoman said the agency would be mandated to get court approval for images of Americans it collects through their surveillance programs.
Snowden revealed the surveillance program in 2013 of NSA targeted facial recognition.