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NSA scoops up images for facial recognition programs

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posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 02:27 PM
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The US National Security Agency is scooping up large quantities of images of people for use in facial recognition programs, the New York Times reported Sunday, citing top secret documents.

The Times said documents, which were obtained from fugitive former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, show a significant increase in reliance on facial recognition technology at the agency over the past four years.

The report said the NSA was using new software to exploit a flood of images included in intercepted emails, text messages, social media posts, video conferences and other communications.


I must have missed that Times report. This says the NSA "intercepts" 55,000 facial recognition images daily. and this "helps 'implement precise targeting''

The earlier restrictions on the NSA's surveillance that were promised by the President were nothing. This is an attempt for the government to invade the common man's privacy and catalog them. Collection of data about people who are not a "targets" is going to lead us into having everything monitored and there be no privacy at all.




posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 02:45 PM
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Well, when their motto is "Collect Everything"...

This is not too much of a surprise.

Sad, but not surprising.



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 02:59 PM
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Its happening over here too (UK).
Just up the road from me the police (at least once per week) have a camera mounted on a tripod. It stands about four feet tall and looks directly through the screen of passing cars. The cables from the camera lead to a van that has a large antenna mounted on its roof.
Its always there between 6am and 10am. At these times its highly likely the person driving the car is the owner, so they only need to do a vehicle check (plate recognition) to put a name to the face.
I always drive with the sun shade down, being as I'm quite tall they only get the lower half of my face.



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 03:04 PM
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At this point, it is plain eerie. The NSA probably knows more about me than my entire family does combined. As goes for everybody else -



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 03:06 PM
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I don't get it. Where's the beef?

Facial recognition capabilities have been around and used extensively for years. I know in England, and many U.S. cities there are cameras located all over the city streets that monitor our activities continuously 24/7. Businesses like casinos use this software commonly, as well. It's not just a government activity. These monitoring systems use facial recognition software to try and identify fugitives, terrorists, and who knows what else. This has been going on for a long, long time now. And it's been going on openly and quite legally.

Do I like it personally? Yes and no.

At any rate, if local authorities and businesses use this technology, then why not the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc? I don't understand what the big deal is, other than just another excuse to villify the government.

Cheers!



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 03:31 PM
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a reply to: netbound

I think the issue here is that they are "scooping up large quantities of images" from all over the internet, which I assume means they are taking photos from Facebook and other social networks (I don't know for sure because the OP didn't include a link to the article). I don't think many people see an issue if they have criminal photos, but when they take images from social networks without the permission of the people in the images then it could be perceived as a violation of privacy. If you ask me it's pretty obvious they've been doing this for a long time... they are not going to be satisfied with an image database which only contains convicted criminals because they cannot identify people with a clean record, and much of the time people who commit a crime do have a clean record.
edit on 1/6/2014 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 03:37 PM
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originally posted by: netbound
I don't get it. Where's the beef?


Are you the guy I saw drop his pants at the TSA check point?


Shame on you..... you should be more concerned about basic civil liberties and civil rights of those around you.



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 03:39 PM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

I'll give you a link to the original article:

Promised Original Atricle Link



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 03:47 PM
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originally posted by: ChefSlug
a reply to: ChaoticOrder

I'll give you a link to the original article:

Promised Original Atricle Link

Thanks. I would suggest adding the link to your opening post if you still have time to edit it. But even after reading that article it's still fairly unclear exactly how they are collecting images from the internet and how they are using them. The only thing that seems relatively clear, if we are to believe these documents leaked by Snowden, is that they are amassing around 55,000 images of facial recognition quality each day, although the NSA seems to be denying that. I'd have to read the actual leaked documents to know for sure, the MSM always simplifies things and distorts the facts.
edit on 1/6/2014 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 04:42 PM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder
I watched a vid on the defcon channel (youtube) about facial recognition, and on it they demonstrated that a simple thing such as hair style can make a face totally invisible to the software thats scanning for a face.

Your avatar is a perfect example, it has hair covering half the forehead. The scanning software first searches for a wide space with two eyes below it. The hair style in your avatar was used to demonstrate how the software was rendered useless so easily



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 04:49 PM
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a reply to: VoidHawk

It'd depend on how much of the crucial facial features are obscured. I imagine that the algorithms used by the NSA and other such agencies are much more advanced than anything in the public domain, and the algorithms get better every day. But yes you're right, it doesn't take much to screw up the algorithms, however they are now better at distinguishing the difference between similar looking people than the human brain will ever be, and they need to be in order to pick one face out of millions.
edit on 1/6/2014 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 05:10 PM
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If you have a current drivers license, they have your facial recognition on file already.

That is why the Real ID ACT requires an ISO/IEC 19794-5 United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization compliant photograph for your new license to be issued with a “Gold Star”, and meet the Real ID Benchmarks. Here is the standard for those photos:
NIST: Understanding the face image format standards

These photos are in international format, and are shared outside the US. This was all originally set up with the E-Passport system, and with states issuing optional “enhanced drivers licenses”. All states are presently collecting this, even the ones that refused to comply with the Real ID Act. If you want to test it out for yourself, ask if you can smile or wear a hat when you go to get your Drivers license renewed.

These images are stored at a state level in a database (Florida has been doing this since the 90's), then are retrieved by state, national, and international agencies to be run through a biometric FR software, and placed in their own local databases. When the Boston incident happened, go back and look at how the FBI used photo recognition “pulled from state DMV databases” to track down the perpetrators. This was reported publicly in the news at the time.

This is also why I get a good laugh when people worry about being tracked by RFID chips. Your already being tracked by FR cameras, without your knowledge. RFID has no existing infrastructure, and would require reader stations placed all around the country. FR does the same thing with existing infrastructure, at less cost, without public knowledge, and at further range then RFID could ever accomplish. When a crime happens, such as Boston, you are now being forced to stand up in a “virtual” police “line-up” without your knowledge, consent, or even probable cause.

This is by far the most dangerous invasion of our rights since 911, and yet very few area aware of it, or paying any attention to it at all. Essentially you are being tagged and tracked by your face.
edit on 6/1/2014 by defcon5 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 05:20 PM
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originally posted by: VoidHawk
a reply to: ChaoticOrder
I watched a vid on the defcon channel (youtube) about facial recognition, and on it they demonstrated that a simple thing such as hair style can make a face totally invisible to the software thats scanning for a face.

That was the case with the OLD software, but not anymore. The new stuff can read from only a small portion of the face. By adding more “markers” and increasing the resolution, they can pick you up from only a a very small fraction of skin being visible.

The Pinellas County Sheriff department was one of the testbeds for that old software, and they tried it out at some of the games at Tropicana Field where it failed pretty badly. However that was quite a number of years ago, and like any bad idea that removes your rights, they kept working at it until they have a system that is now VERY accurate.



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 05:24 PM
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originally posted by: ChaoticOrder
a reply to: VoidHawk

It'd depend on how much of the crucial facial features are obscured. I imagine that the algorithms used by the NSA and other such agencies are much more advanced than anything in the public domain, and the algorithms get better every day. But yes you're right, it doesn't take much to screw up the algorithms, however they are now better at distinguishing the difference between similar looking people than the human brain will ever be, and they need to be in order to pick one face out of millions.


Without doubt they are getting better at this stuff, especially when pulling in one face to compare against a database of known faces, but grabbing a face from a moving crowd is very difficult, the software needs known shapes to know its got a face, only then will it look more closely at it. A hat with a long peak on the front or hair that obscures part of the face etc make it impossible for the software to know whether its looking at a face or a brick wall.
Personally I think thats why we've seen spectacles being reduced to such a small lens that doesn't cover the eyebrows.
I wear specs and this new narrow lens style is a hindrance to vision, I have to tilt my head up and down much more than I did with the old larger specs.



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 05:37 PM
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originally posted by: defcon5

This is also why I get a good laugh when people worry about being tracked by RFID chips. Your already being tracked by FR cameras, without your knowledge. RFID has no existing infrastructure, and would require reader stations placed all around the country. FR does the same thing with existing infrastructure, at less cost, without public knowledge, and at further range then RFID could ever accomplish. When a crime happens, such as Boston, you are now being forced to stand up in a “virtual” police “line-up” without your knowledge, consent, or even probable cause.

This is by far the most dangerous invasion of our rights since 911, and yet very few area aware of it, or paying any attention to it at all. Essentially you are being tagged and tracked by your face.


I agree about being tracked by the camera's, but I disagree about the lack of infrastructure for rfid tracking.

In the UK ALL the large stores already have it in place. The products on the shelves have rfid tags on them to prevent shop lifting. At the entrance to these stores customers must pass between the loops that read the tags. Its the exact same tech!!
Those readers are as close to the street as they can possibly get them, my guess is they can read products that passers by may have in their bags, this allows them to also collect data on what people are buying elsewhere!



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 07:37 PM
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a reply to: VoidHawk

OR smaller frames might just be a current fashion. Not everything has a hidden reason.



posted on Jun, 1 2014 @ 09:03 PM
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a reply to: ChefSlug

I think I will start taking selfies flipping the bird or with a sign that says "f**k you NSA"


I actually wouldn't do that but I do flip them off in my own subtle way.

The definition of selfie should be: Selfie- to aid the NSA in recognizing your face, even if you make a fish face.



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