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Facial Recognition

June 11th 2023 15 Min read Seymour Goode

Only a few short weeks ago, I had a conversation with the parent of a child that was taking their driver's test. This parent said, “it was interesting when the child was told to stand in front of what looked like a camera, they asked if that was for the license photo already and the answer was 'no', this is for facial recognition.”

I am still young enough to remember when I was getting my driver's license. I would have done anything they told me to do as long as I was going to get my freedom to drive. It was a right of passage, turning 16 and driving.

So, now they enter your facial characteristics into a database with your name, address, driver's license number. That's upsetting.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) was authorized to utilize facial recognition technology when getting a new or renewed driver's license in 2007, under then- Governor Ed Rendell (D). The purpose, or so it may seem, was to minimize fraud. If a person has multiple ID's (driver licenses), fraud is possible. Although “FaceEXPLORER” facial recognition technology (FRT) was a system used by PennDOT (and may still be used), there are other commercial systems available to governments or industry. So, what does that database look like today.

Well, Pennsylvania has a population of approximately 12.9 million people. The current database of Facial Recognition has approximately 10.1 million people. I would surmise that if you have a driver's license in the Commonwealth, the state has your facial recognition.

What do they do with your face? The PennDOT website goes on to 'inform you' that the PSP (PA State Police) and the Attorney General's Office utilize FaceEXPLORER for criminal investigative purposes. In a GovTech.com article of 2010, the PA Chiefs of Police Association selected Indentix' Automated Biometric Identification Systems (ABIS) in conjunction with fingerprint identification to share data with law enforcement agencies.

I have forwarded the writings of our Founding Fathers in previous articles. One such thought was 'that a community of people give authority to others to secure their own safety'. This is the basis of a local, State and Federal government of and for the People. Ultimately, it is also the authorization of police departments.

I think all citizenry agrees that catching criminals and minimizing criminal activity is a good goal of the police. But, at what point does the collection of data become an infringement on YOUR freedoms…your RIGHT TO PRIVACY?

If you were asked by someone to take your picture, your fingerprint, or your eye-scan to build a database of POTENTIAL CRIMINALS, would you agree to it?

In our society, we do background checks to secure our safety, whether it is for child protection or our financial protection. It is not unfair to be leery others which we may not be familiar…until we become familiar with them. It is unlikely that we track their every movement.

The federal government utilizes Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) in a great number of agencies. The GAO (Government Accountability Office) issued a report in August 2021 titled “Facial Recognition Technology - Current and Future Uses by Federal Agencies”. (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21048916-gao-facial-recognition-report) The report details many uses of FRT. Most of them are good, such as, border control, physical access to facilities, phones, websites, etc. A few very ambiguously stated objectives include “assistance with contact tracing”, “analysis of attention or alertness based on eye tracking”, and “any other agency use that does not fit into the categories”.

The report additionally notes that the federal government agencies will utilize State databases and other commercial databases.

Again, to catch a criminal is good.

Our US Constitution and the PA Constitution are similar in terminology regarding our right to privacy. Is a governmental agency taking your facial recognition without your knowledge an unreasonable search? Does it infringe upon your right to be secure in your person?

Amendment IV of the US Constitution

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Article 1, Section 8 of the PA Constitution “Security from searches and seizures The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions from unreasonable searches and seizures, and no warrant to search any place or to seize any person or things shall issue without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation subscribed to by the affiant.”

I submit to you, the time when you voluntarily provide the government with your personal data - fingerprints, photo, facial recognition, or DNA - is your bending of the knee to the power of the government.

Things to ponder: Although this technology is not yet perfected, it will be. We've seen other countries - not aligned with our self-ruling nature - track and identify people and their movements. They “eye in the sky” is real. Big Brother can watch, identify, and track you.

At least, be knowledgeable that it is and can happen. Be the infringement not upon you but know that it may be on your children or children's children.