Harvesting facial images from social media sites and other collection sites allows the N.S.A. to build an arsenal of facial recognition, according to The New York Times. It is not facial images alone but also, videos and other related images.
According to a spokesperson from the N.S.A. driver license pictures and passport photos are not collected. It becomes cause for a court order when the photo of domestic citizens is targeted. The agency has increased its efforts to improve its arsenal of images to counter any foreign terrorists who are around the world and showing texts or phone calls to cells within the U.S.
The N.S.A. believes that its global effort is its job to maintain protection for American citizens and U.S. shores. The level of collection and technology employed has increased over the past four years.
Documents that were stolen from the N.S.A. in 2013 sited millions of intercepts per day and about 55,000 facial recognition images daily. The Boston bombing only emphasized the need for more of a complete profile target to be developed from facial recognition, emails, texts and other sources.
The F.B.I. facial recognition image collection is forecast that 52 million facial records will be on file by 2015. Its “next generation” collection will match facial images and finger prints. This presents a complex issue for the private citizen and use of the Internet and social media.
Google and Facebook have been viewed with caution as the issue of privacy lurks in the advancement and use of technology by these big ‘net’ companies. Their issues with privacy and the N.S.A., has released announcements of new features available on Facebook to address concerns on how to protect oneself from invasion from both government agencies and private companies.
In April Facebook released its new privacy log on and also a pop up item so that you know that you check your posts and to whom they are in your group.
“This new tool is designed to help people make sure they are sharing with just the audience they want. Everything about how privacy works on Facebook remains the same,” released by Facebook.
Google Glass presents a different concern that people caught in the background of a picture is at privacy risk. Google Glass is not the first nor the last that will collect a trove of pictures. Privacy or lack of it is a new paradigm due to technology that will require a new definition of privacy.
Both privacy laws and other restraints are difficult to apply to the collection. Erosion of privacy is becoming a concern. “Facial recognition can be very invasive,” said Alessandro Acquits, a researcher on facial recognition technology at Carnegie Mellon University. “There are still technical limitations on it, but the computational power keeps growing, and the databases keep growing, and the algorithms keep improving.”
The law and the collection of facial recognition are still operating in a vacuum and a new era of defining civil liberties and protection.