Feeds

FBI techs shy away from facial recognition

Spends 40 years losing face

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A senior FBI technologist declared last month that after decades of evaluation, the agency sees no point in facial recognition.

Speaking at last month's Biometrics 2009 conference in London, James A Loudermilk II, a senior level technologist at the FBI, outlined the agency's future biometrics' strategy.

He said that 18,000 law enforcement agencies contribute fingerprints and DNA samples to the FBI’s databases and, at their peak, they submit 200,000+ identity verification queries a day. It’s a big operation, and it’s only going to grow, he said.

Under the Next Generation Identification initiative, an irisprint database is likely to be added to the existing fingerprint and DNA databases.

Fingerprints are likely to be amplified with friction prints of other ridges, probably palmprints and maybe footprints. Voiceprints are also being evaluated. Anything that can feasibly increase public safety.

Loudermilk said his aim was to get the current turnaround time for laboratory staff from DNA sample to profile down from 8 to 10 hours to 1. He said the technology was there already, it was a question of feeding it down the levels of law enforcement to every precinct booking station. Once the agency gets turnaround time to an hour, then perhaps the idea of sampling an entire planeload of passengers starts to look feasible.

What will be missing from this mix, however, is facial recognition.

Facial recognition would be the killer application of biometrics, Loudermilk told the hundreds of conference delegates, and the FBI would dearly love to be able to use facial recognition in its fight against crime.

But it can’t. The algorithms just don’t exist to deliver the highly reliable verification required.

This is even though the FBI has been evaluating facial recognition technology since 1963, he said. It didn’t invest then. It’s not investing now.

Despite the FBI's rubbishing of the technology, delegates from other policing agencies and vendors queued up to declare their intention to introduce facial recognition or claim the technology worked.

These included Alex Lahood of the UK Border Agency. He reiterated former Home Sec John Reid's pledge to check the identity of everyone entering and leaving the UK by 2013. When asked how, he said, probably face recognition and fingerprints.

Clearly, the FBI's word is not good enough for HM government. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.