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Hearing Hearing Date: March 22, 2017 9:30 am 2154 Rayburn HOB

Committee to Review Law Enforcement’s Policies on Facial Recognition Technology

Committee to Review Law Enforcement’s Policies on Facial Recognition Technology
March 22, 2017
9:30 am
2154 Rayburn HOB
Full Committee on Oversight and Accountability
  • Approximately half of adult Americans’ photographs are in a FRT database.
    • 18 states each have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the FBI to share photos with the federal government, including from state departments of motor vehicles (DMV). The committee identified Maryland and Arizona as having MOUs with the FBI.
    • The FBI will continue to pursue MOUs with states to gain access to DMV images.
  • The FBI used facial recognition technology (FRT) for years without first publishing a privacy impact assessment, as required by law.
  • FRT has accuracy deficiencies, misidentifying female and African American individuals at a higher rate. Human verification is often insufficient as a backup and can allow for racial bias.
  • The FBI went to great lengths to exempt itself from certain provisions of the Privacy Act.
  • To review the current state of FRT, its various uses, benefits, and challenges, and to evaluate if legislation is necessary.
  • To examine the FBI’s use of FRT and the FBI policies that govern the recording, retention, and use of photographs by law enforcement.
  • The Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law estimated that, when accounting for all of the databases that law enforcement has access to, nearly one in two Americans is in a facial recognition database.
  • The FBI’s Next Generation Identification system includes an Interstate Photo System that allows the FBI and selected state and local law enforcement to search a database of over 30 million photos. The FBI also has agreements with at least 17 states that allow it to request a FRT search of state driver’s license databases.
  • A Government Accountability Office report found that the FBI should better ensure privacy and accuracy in its use of FRT.


Chairman Chaffetz (R-UT): “So here’s the problem – you’re required by law to put out a privacy statement and you didn’t. And now we’re supposed to trust you with hundreds of millions of people’s faces in a system that you couldn’t protect even with the 702 issue.”

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI): “I think the issue goes beyond the first amendment concerns that were expressed. . .and is broader. I don’t want to just protect someone if they’re in a political protest from being identified, the reality is we should protect everybody unless there is a valid documented criminal justice action. Why should my photo. . .be subject because I get a driver’s license, to access?”

Rep. John Duncan (R-TN): “I think we’re reaching a very sad point, a very dangerous point, when we’re doing away with the reasonable expectation of privacy about anything.”

Witnesses and testimonies: Ms. Kimberly Del Greco

Deputy Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Information Services Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation


Ms. Diana Maurer

Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues
U.S. Government Accountability Office


Dr. Charles Romine, Ph.D.

Director, Information Technology Lab
National Institute of Standards and Technology


Mr. Alvaro Bedoya

Executive Director, Center on Privacy and Technology
Georgetown Law


Mr. Benji Hutchinson

Senior Director
NEC Corporation of America On Behalf of The International Biometrics + Identity Association


Ms. Jennifer Lynch

Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation


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