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

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.


macholatte IH8OBAMA Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:58 Permalink

  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.

In reply to by IH8OBAMA

Endgame Napoleon IH8OBAMA Wed, 12/06/2017 - 12:02 Permalink

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.

In reply to by IH8OBAMA

Escrava Isaura GlassHouse101 Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:42 Permalink

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Face recognition? No problem. Ware a wig and lots of makeup.  

In reply to by GlassHouse101

Automatic Choke Big Bopper Wed, 12/06/2017 - 13:00 Permalink

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. 

In reply to by Big Bopper

Cognitive Dissonance unplugged Wed, 12/06/2017 - 13:58 Permalink

"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.

In reply to by unplugged

Bemused Observer RumpleShitzkin Wed, 12/06/2017 - 13:16 Permalink

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...

In reply to by RumpleShitzkin

Drachma Cognitive Dissonance Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:58 Permalink

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.


In reply to by Cognitive Dissonance