'The revelation of a massive US citizen photo database fanned the flames of debate about the highly controversial high-tech solution to crimes, which can possibly become the culprit in mass wrongful arrests and privacy violations.
US lawmakers are calling for a nation-wide moratorium on facial recognition technology after a massive database of 640 million photos gathered by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was revealed during a hearing on Tuesday.
Speaking before a House Oversight and Reform Committee, Government Accountability Office (GAO) representative Gretta Goodwin revealed that the FBI has access to some 640 million photos of US citizens, including 36 million mugshot photos and 21 state driver’s license directories. The revelation sparked bewilderment amongst the lawmakers.
“640 million photos,” repeated Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking member of the Committee. “There are only 330 million people in the country.”
While the FBI emphasizes it uses the vast database only to solve crimes, lawmakers got worried. Panel members accused the FBI of failing to implement “adequate privacy and accuracy guardrails” recommended by GAO three years ago before deploying the facial recognition technology across the nation, according to The Hill.
“Although the Committee has not called for a broad moratorium at this stage, I personally feel that we should consider it, and we will be continuing our robust bipartisan oversight of this issue to develop common-sense, concrete reforms that the whole Committee can support,” panel chairman Elijah Cummings told reporters.
The main concern regarding facial recognition technology is its predisposition for failure which bears signs of discrimination. Civil rights groups cite studies that claim the existing technology makes mistakes when analyzing certain populations at higher rates than others. Besides, there are questions regarding how the government is handling private data.'
Read more: US Lawmakers Call For Ban on Facial Recognition as Massive 640 Million Photos FBI Database Revealed