Arizona Citizens Tracked In Facial Recognition Database In First Step For 'REAL ID' Implementation

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Aaron Kesel via,

Arizona citizens are now in a government database that uses facial recognition technology to track them simply for getting a driver’s license.

This allows federal and local law enforcement to use the “perpetual lineup” of suspects not accused of a crime to see if someone is wanted for a crime, Arizona Capitol Times reported.

The state says that the program is to prevent identity theft and fraud. Here’s how it works according to Arizona Capitol Times.

After someone at the Motor Vehicle Division takes your photo, your face is scanned by a system based on a proprietary algorithm that analyzes facial features.


The system compares your face against the 19 million photos in the state’s driver’s license database to look for similarities. If an image is similar enough, the system will flag it for further review.

The program is an effort that is part of a nationwide initiative called the REAL ID Act that was created by Congress in 2005 as a response to the September 11th terror attacks. The system allows the state to comply with the federal act, which increased standards for identification documents. Although the REAL ID Act does not explicitly call for facial recognition, it does maintain that states need to take measures to reduce fraud.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) already has publicly boasted about the success with more than 100 cases it has taken to court for fraud using the technology, which has been in place since early 2015.

But the use of the system to prevent identity theft isn’t what people are worried about; the problem is the lack of oversight in government programs that allows anyone with access to look into the database. As such, state-run facial recognition databases are dangerous and can lead down a slippery slope to allow other operations the technology wasn’t intended for.

The other key issue is the fact that residents in Arizona aren’t even being told that this is going on – coupled with the lack of oversight and disclosure, it becomes a nightmare for privacy rights advocates.

“If you don’t know that a system is in place, you actually don’t have the choice of consenting to it or not,” said Clare Garvie who authored the “perpetual line-up” study.

Jim Dempsey, the executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, also had some reservations about the lack of disclosure currently in effect.

Informed consent, through giving notice to people that their faces will be matched up against millions of others when they apply for a license, is a basic tenet of privacy, Jim Dempsey, the executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, said.


Even if notice is given, it’s unlikely that people would opt out of getting a license because facial recognition technology is used because people will decide driving a car and having a legal ID outweigh the risks, Dempsey said.


“It’s an important element. The lack of it is an issue, but it’s one that should be corrected and would be easy to correct,” he said.

Both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have voiced their concerns about state facial recognition databases and how this could be tied into the push by the federal government to use these databases in airports and border checkpoints creating a dystopian Orwellian surveillance state.

“DMV photo databases are probably the most comprehensive databases in existence,” which means they’re “very, very powerful” tools for potential surveillance, something the ACLU worries could be a “next step,” Jay Stanley a senior policy analyst at ACLU said.

One of the main pitfalls of such a system is not only the lack of oversight on the program by any government watchdog, but the fact that there are no laws to justify the collections, or a court between law enforcement and access to millions of people’s identities.

The only requirement for those that search is that it must involve people suspected of committing a crime or “who law enforcement may suspect is about to commit a crime.” People could also be involved in activities that are threats to public safety, sought as part of a criminal investigation or “intelligence-gathering effort.”

Such extremely broad terms for using this technology is extremely worrying and has a high potential for abuse.

“There should at the very least be a court involved before law enforcement can access millions of unwitting people’s identities,” EFF staff attorney, Adam Schwartz, said.


“It’s really hard to function in a car-based society without a driver’s license, and people shouldn’t be subjected to an invasive technology when they decide to follow the law and get a legal document that allows them to drive,” he added. “It’s a misuse of data to collect data, in this case images, for one thing and use them for other purposes.”

Schwartz added that

in many states, including Arizona, agencies have started using facial recognition technology outside of any formal approval from the public and its representatives, state lawmakers.”


“Before government starts using powerful technology to surveil the public, there ought to be a more open and transparent process where the public controls whether or not this is picked up.

All in all, this could set a larger precedent for the surveillance state that the DHS wants in the country under its REAL ID program.

States must adopt REAL ID standards by Oct. 1, 2020, or their residents will need alternate identification to travel which may include carrying a passport domestically, Daily Mail reported.

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E.F. Mutton's picture

OK I'll just wear a Rubber Dick Nose everywhere. 

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Concealing your appearance will soon be outlawed.

NumNutt's picture

Uh oh, all the illegal aliens are not going to be happy about this, guess they won't be getting a driver's license anymore...

Joe Davola's picture

Something tells me facial recognition will not be allowed before voting.

IH8OBAMA's picture

Some day we are all going to be very sorry this technology was ever introduced.  Unless it lets us skip the TSA line at the airport.


Mr. Universe's picture

You have got this mostly right.

guess they won't be getting a driver's license anymore...

They don't limit themselves to just one drivers license when two or three will do. Multiple identities are just too handy to have just one.

IH8OBAMA's picture

Hey, the next major growth industry to invest in will probably be actors makup kits.  If you can't join them, beat them.  LOL

macholatte's picture



track them simply for getting a driver’s license.

Years ago I could get a new driver license while I waited for it to be produced by a machine at the DMV. It took around 15 minutes depending on how many people were in front of me. It was laminated, had my picture and all that.

The last renewal took five days to get because it was not issued by the state, it came from D.C. and I had to stand for a facial recognition picture. 

It is really a national ID card masquerading as a state drive license.

Automatic Choke's picture

"Something tells me facial recognition will not be allowed before voting."

I'd accept any of this if it were required before voting.

JohnG's picture

Georgia has this.  When I renewed my driving permission slip several years ago I has to produce proof of identity (birth cert.), proof of address (2 official forms, tax bill, utility bill) and proof of ssn (tax return...).

Pissed me off, I've lived here most of my life.


BrownCoat's picture

Some states let you opt out... at least they used to. You get a gold star on your license when you provide the identity paperwork. Without the gold star, TSA claims they can refuse you to board an airplane. Oh darn! I bet that means they won't fondle my genitals either.

BrownCoat's picture

In the US, states make you surrender your previous drivers license to get the new one. 

This creates a new industry for the dual passport consultants. I may soon be driving on an international license.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

Unfortunately, the same caliber of civil-service-holding employees, with the same small helping of common sense and conscientiousness, will likely be manning the Face ID queue. The more serious the employee is about protecting citizens’ rights, and the more they come to work every day and stay the whole day, the more likely they will be fired, with the government-worker clique of absentee parents that loves those Family Day picnics, those bunny suit Easter dress-up days and those pot-luck lunches with soft-porn films will be kept. Good luck with them not abusing their access to information. And remember, when they do, copulation and reproduction makes working parents above criticism.

But, you have to say that it might be the solution to the deluge of illegal immigration. We have already sacrificed many rights for this gift.

GlassHouse101's picture

It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

Shitonya Serfs's picture

Hola. I needs some free sheet. Good things we alls looks alike. Si

Escrava Isaura's picture

Face recognition?

No problem.

Ware a wig and lots of makeup.


RumpleShitzkin's picture

Little more to it.

Actually, A LOT more to it.

ShorTed's picture

You better read up on how the tech works. Your suggestion might defeat a police sketch artist circa 1977, but not a modern software baased system.

Joe Davola's picture

There was an article on this esteemed publication a few weeks ago about some Viet's having figured out how to defeat the iPhone face recognition system.  I'm sure the states/feds aren't much better than than Apple with the tech.

Bemused Observer's picture

This stuff doesn't have to be defeated, its own success will be its defeat. Some of the new stuff is SO good its unbelievable...and therin lies the conundrum.

Adahy's picture

Research camouflage techniques.  Counter-shading is your friend.

BrownCoat's picture

They say smiling messes up the identification. At least until the tech improves.

Akzed's picture

That has nothing to do with this.

Xena fobe's picture

California issues drivers licenses to illegals.

Got The Wrong No's picture

Blacks won't have to worry about this, they all look the same. LOL

BennyBoy's picture


Concealing your appearance will soon be outlawed.

Lipstick, hair plugs, make-up and plastic surgery soon to be outlawed.

rubiconsolutions's picture

Can the system see through my burqa?

Big Bopper's picture

Look, there goes rubber dick nose man again!



Automatic Choke's picture

I used to have one of those rubber dick-noses.    It was great for wearing while driving on the freeway.   You'd get double & triple takes from drivers in the next lane, mothers screaming and covering their kid's eyes, truck drivers spitting coffee all over their windshields.  Never quite got anybody to drive off the highway, but close.


Kurpak's picture

War on cameras. If you see a camera, kill it.

This brave new world shit needs to stop now before it's too late. 

Oh wait nevermind, happy joy feelings fellow citizens.

Shinebama's picture

You can borrow Al Franken's dick nose, I don't think he'll be using it to tickle sleeping interns any more.

topspinslicer's picture

Good thing I am a shape shifter

Low-Withers's picture

Dunlaps Disease doesn’t officially qualify as authentic shape shifting

Automatic Choke's picture

when yo belly done lap over yo belt, it can change open carry to concealed carry.

CrownedCoke's picture

I live in Arizona McCain Flake now this. At least we still have our open carry and concealed carry.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

When one 'right' is diminished or extinguished, all right are diminished.

Unfortunately very few understand this phenomenon.

unplugged's picture

and once a threshold number of rights are violated the 2nd amendment's  'last resort' corollary will come into effect

thank you Thomas Jefferson ! :)

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"The concept postulates that the Second. Amendment was intended to provide the means by which the people, as a last resort, could rise in armed revolt against tyrannical authorities. A critical corollary to the theory is the premise that masses of armed civilians could subdue any professional standing army that might support .."

Which is precisely why gun control is so very important to 'them'. I have yet to see a well armed population in ANY country be trampled by the local government without first being disarmed.

shankster's picture

I used to live in sick of all the Mexican flags along Calle Concordia.

adr's picture

Grow some facial hair, wear a baseball cap and sunglasses everywhere, problem solved.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

License plate readers and smartphone tracking will compensate for the personal disguise.

RumpleShitzkin's picture

Disguise won’t work.
It’s the metrics specific to your face.
Distance between eyes, between nostrils, etc.

They can even fill in the blanks between partial images captured from cams.

They got ya.

shankster's picture

They also use scent detectors and retinal scans.

Bemused Observer's picture

And then your lawyer points out that the 'cam' images they are analysing are easily manipulated using a variety of available tools and software, date/time stamps can be fiddled with, backgrounds changed and entire subjects eliminated, with an end result that looks real enough to be scary. And that's with software you can get at BestBuy...of course, the jury understands that the government has more and better tools at their well as an interest in pursuing my client, Your Honor...

A decent lawyer could make the govt. look like a bunch of petty, vengeful, rogue Disney-animators trying to 'nail' people with fabricated evidence they made themselves, and destroy any credibility they have left. That would NOT be a difficult assignment, folks...

Drachma's picture

Don't forget gait recognition

"The term gait recognition is typically used to signify the identification of people in image sequences by the way they walk. Gait is determined by the physical characteristics of each individual, and so is believed to be as unique to the person as a fingerprint is. Human identification using gait is a challenging computer vision task. Gait is also one of the few biometrics that can be measured at a distance, which makes it useful in surveillance applications as well."

On another note, I was watching some NHL hockey with my sons the other day. Without exaggeration, in 9 out of 10 commercials, the cell-phone was featured as part and parcel of every human and commercial interaction, along with HAL-9000-type abominations such as Alexa and Googles face recognition.

No one will be allowed to escape the matrix. Pinhole cameras and microphones are being installed in almost every public space. 'Smart' TV's are watching you with screen-interlaced cameras and with acoustic screen surfaces. People's washing machines and refrigerators are sending them emails reporting on their status. The utility's 'smart' meter (a two-way communication device) is talking with your appliances and determining your allowable energy use. And on and on.

The future sure is bleak for those of us who would let this monstrosity manifest.


Upset Your Worries's picture

Do you think putting gravel in your shoes might help confuse gait analysis? Or, go everywhere on crutches. The options are endless!

Did I mention I was buying a cave before the rush begins?

silentboom's picture

It's part of a bigger problem, soon retinal, or even DNA scans from a distance.  Has to be stopped now.