Dewine defends use of facial recognition analysis

Ohio attorney general confirmed using software to match images of possible suspects and victims to Ohio drivers' licenses
Associated Press
Aug 27, 2013

Local and state law enforcement have used facial recognition software several thousand times since June to match images of possible suspects and victims to pictures on Ohio drivers' licenses, the state's attorney general confirmed Monday.

The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported the details of the software's use by police and other law enforcement officials.

Attorney General Mike DeWine told reporters he didn't think he needed to notify the public about the program's launch because it's been long discussed during meetings with law enforcement agencies and groups.

Plus, he said, officers have had the ability for decades to access photos and records from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. "It's a natural extension of what law enforcement has done in the past," he said.

But DeWine acknowledged that if he could do it over, he would have published a news release either before or at the time the program was put into action.

"It was not anything that I thought was out of the ordinary, and it's not anything out of the ordinary," he said.

So far, the facial recognition program been used almost 2,677 times since June 6, according to the attorney general's office. No one has been charged as a result of its use, and no new pictures are being collected for a database.

DeWine, a Republican who faces re-election next year, defended the software as helping to save lives and solve crimes. "For us not to do this, would be a dereliction of our duty to the people of the state of Ohio to protect them," he said.

DeWine's Democratic challenger criticized him for not announcing the details of the program sooner.

"It is highly irresponsible for the Attorney General of Ohio to launch something this expansive and this intrusive into the lives of law-abiding citizens without ensuring the proper protocols were already in place to protect our privacy," candidate David Pepper said in a written statement.

DeWine said he felt confident that current state law protects against the misuse of the facial recognition program. Though he said he's convening a group of judges, public defenders, sheriffs, and others to review whether the state should have additional security protocols in place. He said he expects their recommendations in 60 days.

The attorney general said his office did not need approval from the General Assembly to use the technology.

On other topics, DeWine said:

—His office is hiring six forensic scientists, at an annual cost of $400,000, to help examine decades of untested sexual assault evidence kits.

—He supports legislation to remove Ohio's 20-year statute of limitations for prosecuting rape and sexual battery cases. "There should be no statute," he said.

—His office is working on a proposal to crack down on synthetic drugs, which are sometimes called bath salts. New versions of the drugs are being tweaked to get around chemical definitions in state law. His office wants to more quickly ban chemicals found to be a risk to the public.

 

Comments

2cents

That's funny to read this today, a friend told me this morning that Cabbalas uses it to keep shoplifters from coming back in the door when they catch one!

SamAdams

Okay, let me get this straight: DeWine says the program helps to "save lives and solve crimes." And yet "no one has been charged as a result of its use..." So even if it MIGHT help, it clearly doesn't help MUCH! Or at all, so far.

As deeply as it pains me to say it, the Democrat challenger for DeWine's job is right: It WAS irresponsible not to go public with the program given both its expense and its intrusiveness. For DeWine to say he didn't think he needed to because it's "been long discussed" is a flimsy rationale at best. After all, if something's being DISCUSSED, that means it's still being DISCUSSED, not that it's already been implemented without any of us knowing it!

This technology may be good stuff, but it's like any other kind of technology. It can be both used and abused. And in the hands of the government, the latter is just as likely as the former! Safeguards aren't enough. The Fourth Amendment is theoretically a safeguard, but one which is regularly and cavalierly ignored. The horse may already be out of the barn on this one, but that doesn't mean we can't still lasso it!

Huron_1969

High tech systems are very expensive and most people would be flabbergasted to learn how much it costs to run a data center

How is this intrusive or a privacy infringement ? I liken it to finger print matching and haven't thought of a way it comes close to the other modern day monitoring ... NSA, Homeland, etc

SamAdams

Google "facial recognition" and "NFL" and see how the technology is already being used in some venues.

The bottom line here isn't that it's been abused already insofar as the state system is concerned. It's that it WILL be. After all, the NSA and DHS really SHOULD have the ability to eavesdrop. It's just that they've been doing it wholesale. Facial recognition technology = same exact potential problems/abuses.

Nemesis

"How is this intrusive or a privacy infringement ? I liken it to finger print matching"

But you aren't required to be fingerprinted in order to drive a car. Getting fingerprinted is an intrusion to which non-criminals are not subjected. This system puts you on equal footing with a criminal, where you are now entered into a biometric system for identifying suspects.

The fact that we DON'T fingerprint everyone or take their DNA points to an implied right to anonymity for those who don't commit crimes, which this move violates.

Huron_1969

If I am a non-criminal, there's nothing in the database to match my picture to, it's just a nameless picture with nothing to link to

SamAdams

Not true, and that's the issue. Historically, when this sort of program causes problems, it's because the authorities are gathering images from all sorts of cameras whether there are reports of criminal acts at the time or not. You may be the best guy in the world, but that doesn't stop you from getting yourself recorded any number of times every time you're out and about!

SamAdams

Not true, and that's the issue. Historically, when this sort of program causes problems, it's because the authorities are gathering images from all sorts of cameras whether there are reports of criminal acts at the time or not. You may be the best guy in the world, but that doesn't stop you from getting yourself recorded any number of times every time you're out and about! And again, it's no different when that happens than the wholesale collection of data by the NSA everyone seems to find so objectionable (not to mention illegal).

Huron_1969

They can snap my picture everywhere I go, they still don't have anything to link to that identifies my identity. Basically would be a database with orphans and no master record.... resulting in useless images

I am 100% against the NSA/HLS collecting our communications, but I believe facial recognition is a different animal and is not intrusive nor violates our privacy rights

Maggdi

Hope you or someone you care about aren't an interest to someone who has access to these data banks. It seems they have a word for an agent's actions, who use this technology to keep an eye on significant others. It's called 'Loveint'. Google the word. See what comes up...
Just some individuals misbehaving.....

Nemesis

Again, the master is your driver's license/state ID photo.
READ THE ARTICLE.

Nemesis

No. Go back and read the article - the database is made up of driver's license pictures - if you have a driver's license, you're picture is in there. Maybe you weren't aware that when the DMV takes your picture for your license, it's not just printed on your license card - it's also stored in this system.

Huron_1969

I read it and tons of other articles over the years as we develop various bio technologies, retina, finger print, hand geometry, voice, etc. The DMV pictures are almost worthless for automated matching. When LE needs to search the database, it requires significant human involvement to make the match. IMO opinion, those DMV pics are not a master source because of the quality and limitations of the technology.

If you do your own research on this you will find plenty of supporting information. This technology is in it's infancy and has a long way to go before it works the way people think it does which usually comes from some crime scene on a TV show

Nemesis

The quality of DMV photos is not what you see on your license. That's a low resolution print of a much higher resolution image. I'm well aware of the state of the technology - I have years of experience actually developing it for a living, and it's just as capable as fingerprint matching. In fact, it's often better. Look at what a $100 point and shoot camera can do in terms of automatic red eye retouching and smile detection - those are the same sort of algorithms used in facial recognition.

Further, if the technology was not robust, as you claim, that would make this MORE egregious. If you're not a criminal, you don't have to worry about a low quality fingerprint from a crime scene erroneously implicating you in a crime because you're not in the database against they match, but with this system, you DO have to worry about it because you are in the system.

You have a right to be left alone by a government that minds it's own business until there is individualized probable cause to believe you have committed a crime. That means no dossiers, no folders in J. Edgar Hoover's files (or the modern digital equivalent) no biometrics to be matched against crime scene forensics, no spying on your comings and goings. It's sad that you don't understand the historically proven value of those rights.

shucks

ShamAdams

Is there a point to all your rambling?

SamAdams

I have a different one now: Are YOU agreeing with a REPUBLICAN?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I do agree that something like this should have been publicized beforehand. I am not opposed to the technology either, especially on a state level so if there is a breech of security it can be appealed up.

Roger15

DeWine's office number is 614-466-4986, or TOLL-FREE 800-282-0515 for the cheapskates.

tk

How could it be intrusive if we didn't even know it was happening? When something goes wrong, people say "Why didn't the government do something?" When the government does do something, those same people call it invasive and intrusive.

SamAdams

So then you see no reason for the Fourth Amendment?

tk

I see no reason to be paranoid.

coasterfan

Awesome comment, tk! You summed up the entire conservative mindset in one brief humorous paragraph. They complain about how much gov't programs cost...until the tornado or hurricane hits THEIR house. Then, of course, they have their hand out just the same as anyone else.

Nemesis

Not all "somethings" that the government might do are equally tolerable.

Nemesis

Not all "somethings" that the government might do are equally tolerable.

KURTje

Reads similar to Gov. Taft & the right to carry....

EdO's

Invasion of privacy.