FC: ACLU "dismayed" over Fresno facecams; biometric news update

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Tue Nov 20 2001 - 23:08:12 PST

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    Politech facecam archive:
    Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 19:09:18 -0500
    From: " Scullyat_private" <Scullyat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Subject: Facial Recognition at Fresno Airport
    Here's another story about the ACLU opposing facial recognition 
    software.  It seems like facial recognition stories just keep popping up 
    and it may become easy for us to overlook them as just another case of the 
    inevitable - but we shouldn't let that happen.  I'm wondering if anyone is 
    keeping track of all the airports, bus stations, etc. that have actually 
    implemented this technology?  It would also be curious to see who has 
    debated it and decided not to use it.
    Source: http://www.aclu.org/news/2001/n112001a.html
    ACLU Calls on Fresno Airport to Remove Controversial
    Facial Recognition Technology
    Tuesday, November 20, 2001
    SAN FRANCISCO--A controversial facial recognition technology system 
    installed at Fresno's Yosemite Airport will do little to keep Americans 
    safe, but threatens fundamental civil rights, the American Civil Liberties 
    Union said today in a letter to the city officials.
    "The ACLU fully recognizes the need for improving airport security in the 
    wake of the September 11 attacks," said Jayashri Srikantiah, a staff 
    attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. "However, we also believe 
    that the use of intrusive new surveillance technologies must be subjected 
    to a process of thoughtful and deliberate scrutiny. The effectiveness of 
    facial recognition technology is open to serious question and we believe 
    that it will not enhance the security of the air-traveling public in any 
    meaningful way."
    In letter send today to the Director of Transportation for the City of 
    Fresno, the ACLU urged the City to "reconsider its decision to employ 
    facial recognition on a trial basis, and to put on hold any efforts to 
    implement the technology on a permanent basis." The ACLU goes on to say 
    that the use of the technology "will create a false sense of security while 
    severely eroding fundamental privacy rights and likely increasing the 
    harassment of innocent people based solely on their ethnic appearance."
    Several government agencies have abandoned facial-recognition systems after 
    finding they did not work as advertised, including the Immigration and 
    Naturalization Service, which experimented with using the technology to 
    identify people in cars at the Mexico-U.S. border.
    A study by the Department of Defense found very high error rates even under 
    ideal conditions where the subject is staring directly into the camera 
    under bright lights. If installed in airports, the technology would miss a 
    high proportion of suspects included in the photo database, and flag huge 
    numbers of innocent people -- thereby lessening vigilance, wasting manpower 
    resources, and creating a false sense of security.
    Nonetheless, officials at Logan Airport in Boston and T.F. Green airport in 
    Providence, Rhode Island, have announced that they will be installing the 
    technology. The ACLU has urged officials in these airports to reconsider 
    their plans.
    More information on facial recognition technology can be found at the 
    ACLU's special online feature at http://www.aclu.org/features/f110101a.html.
    The letter follows:
    November 20, 2001
    Charles R. Hayes
    Director of Transportation
    Airport Administration
    City of Fresno
    4995 East Clinton Way
    Fresno, CA 93727
    Dear Mr. Hayes:
    According to recent news reports and our conversations with Public 
    Relations and Communications Director Patti Miller, Fresno Yosemite 
    International Airport has installed a facial recognition system on a trial 
    basis as an added security measure in light of the tragic events of 
    September 11th. While the ACLU certainly understands Fresno Yosemite's 
    interest in increasing security at the airport, we are extremely dismayed 
    and concerned about its decision to install a facial recognition system. 
    Because facial recognition is a highly privacy-invasive technology, we 
    believe its efficacy needs to be considered extremely carefully before it 
    is deployed, whether on a trial or permanent basis. We believe that the 
    effectiveness of facial recognition technology is open to serious question, 
    and therefore, that airports should not be implementing the technology.
    To begin with, facial recognition schemes are of little use without a 
    photographic database of suspects. It is our understanding that the 
    "terrorist database" Fresno Yosemite will be using is both rudimentary and 
    tiny. While we recognize that the FBI and other federal agencies may be 
    working on the database, it is unrealistic to think that it will ever 
    contain the photographs of more than a small fraction of potential 
    international terrorists. The database also could not include more than a 
    tiny fraction of potential domestic terrorists - many of whom, like Timothy 
    McVeigh, have no criminal records. It makes little sense to employ an 
    intrusive system that will have little chance of success. The technology 
    will not only divert resources from more effective efforts, but it will 
    also create a false sense of security that will cause us to let our guard 
    In addition, studies by the National Institute of Standards and Technology 
    (NIST) and the Department of Defense strongly suggest that facial 
    recognition systems, even when tested in far more ideal conditions than 
    those of a bustling airport, would miss a high proportion of suspects 
    included in the photo database, while flagging many innocent people. The 
    Department of Defense study, for instance, found major "false positive" 
    problems, in which the system reported a match when none existed. Police 
    and airport authorities relying on facial recognition systems will 
    therefore be led too often to stop, question, and detain innocent people 
    instead of suspects. If the photo database consists largely, if not 
    exclusively, of Middle Eastern people flagged as terrorists, the result of 
    these numerous "false positives" will fall most heavily on innocent people 
    of Arabic or South Asian descent and lead to yet another pattern of racial 
    profiling in law enforcement.
    On the flip side, the NIST study found a "false negative" rate - which 
    corresponds to when the technology failed to identify persons who should 
    have been identified - of 43 percent when the technology was asked to 
    compare current images with photographs of the same subjects taken just 18 
    months before. Independent experts agree, as the NIST study demonstrated, 
    that facial recognition systems have trouble recognizing the effects of 
    aging, and that changing hair or beard style or wearing glasses can fool 
    systems. Differences in lighting and camera angles, as well as the fact 
    that individuals are not posing for photos (but are instead being 
    photographed surreptitiously as in Fresno Yosemite) are all known to 
    further increase the inaccuracies of facial recognition systems.
    In fact, several government agencies have abandoned facial recognition 
    systems after finding that they did not work as advertised. For instance, 
    the Immigration and Naturalization Service experimented with facial 
    recognition technology to identify people in cars at the United 
    States-Mexico border, but ultimately decided against using the technology.
    We are concerned as well that there will be enormous pressure to use facial 
    recognition to look for people suspected of non-terrorist activity, such as 
    those with outstanding warrants from local jurisdictions, or even motorists 
    with outstanding speeding tickets. If such an expanded use of facial 
    recognition technology seems far-fetched, it is not. We are hard-pressed to 
    think of a privacy-invasive technology instituted in our time which has 
    been limited to its original use. Indeed, facial recognition technology was 
    used to surreptitiously take the photos of every person attending the Super 
    Bowl this year. Nobody was arrested as a result of this secret surveillance 
    experiment that made every Super Bowl patron part of a giant police 
    line-up. The "matches" found by the system appear to have been either 
    "false positives" or of minor lawbreakers, none of whom were alleged to 
    have done anything illegal during the game. Despite these serious problems 
    with the technology, it was subsequently installed on Tampa's public 
    streets, where its use is even less justifiable than at the Super Bowl.
    The hastiness of Fresno Yosemite's decision to deploy facial recognition 
    technology exacerbates our concerns about the use of the technology. 
    According to our conversations with Ms. Miller, the airport did not undergo 
    serious, formal deliberation before deciding to install facial recognition 
    technology. Rather, the decision was made in an informal manner, and 
    without public participation or debate. It appears that the vendor of the 
    technology (who is providing it free of charge to Fresno Yosemite) will be 
    deciding weighty questions such as who will have access to the database and 
    what level of "match" should trigger an alarm.
    We fully recognize that the right to privacy at airports is not absolute. 
    The right must be balanced against the government and the public's 
    legitimate interest in safety when privacy-intrusive measures significantly 
    promote security. But, we need not even reach that difficult balancing in 
    this case, for there is simply no objective basis to believe that 
    implementation of facial recognition technology at Fresno Yosemite will 
    enhance the security of the air-traveling public in any meaningful way. 
    Instead, its use will create a false sense of security while severely 
    eroding fundamental privacy rights and likely increasing the harassment of 
    innocent people based solely on their ethnic appearance.
    For all of the reasons in this letter, we strongly urge Fresno Yosemite 
    International Airport to reconsider its decision to employ facial 
    recognition technology on a trial basis, and to put on hold any efforts to 
    implement the technology on a permanent basis.
    Thank you for your consideration of our views. Should you have additional 
    questions or concerns, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you 
    and other appropriate officials so that we can present our views on facial 
    recognition technology in more detail.
    Jayashri Srikantiah
    ACLU of Northern California
    Barry Steinhardt
    American Civil Liberties Union
    [Below excerpted from BIOMETRIC WEEKLY, an industry trade pub. --DBM]
    *** Digital Descriptor Systems, Inc. Announces New Fingerprint System
          Digital Descriptor Systems, Inc., a designer and marketer of
          digitized imaging systems and biometric identification solutions
          for the criminal justice and security markets, announced the first
          non-criminal justice market sale of its new Fingerprint Matching
          System (FMS) the only fully scaleable fingerprint identification
          system in the world designed to take full advantage of the
          Windows(r) NT/2000 environment.
    *** Vegas Hotel Caters to Younger Crowd With Biometrics
          The only new resort to open in Las Vegas this year, the Palms
          hotel-casino thinks a younger, smaller approach will mean success
          in a tough tourist economy. With the help of the architect who
          designed the upscale Bellagio hotel-casino, the Palms incorporates
          a variety of woods and water effects to create a chic atmosphere of
          comfort. The 455-room, $265 million resort is just west of the Las
          Vegas Strip across from the Rio hotel-casino. For $3,000 a year and
          a thumbprint - a biometric thumbprint scanner is used to access the
          private elevator - members watch the crowd below or rent one of six
          sky boxes with private balconies to take in a concert.
    *** Visionics' FaceIt Two U.S. International Airports
          Visionics Corporation (Nasdaq:VSNX) announced that it will begin
          installation of its FaceIt(R) ARGUS system at two U.S.
          international airports, including the first U.S. Category X
          airport. For security reasons, both airports remain unnamed until
          installation is completed, which is expected to be by the end of
          December. (Category X refers to the FAA designation for the top
          twenty international airports in the United States based on
          passenger traffic, complexity, and other special considerations.)
    *** Precise Biometrics To Get World's Largest Order in its Industry
          Precise Biometrics has received an order equal to more than half of
          the last quarter's sales. It is an order of 1000 fingerprint
          readers, which will be used for IT security. The order also covers
          a license package of about 10,000 licenses. The licenses may result
          in sales of a comparable number of fingerprint readers.
    *** EDS Launches Security Offerings for Airlines, Airports
          Building on its position as the leading provider of global IT
          infrastructure services to the airline industry, EDS (NYSE: EDS)
          unveiled a comprehensive suite of digital security offerings for
          airlines and airports around the world -- delivering the aviation
          industry its first proven and fully integrated approach to
          security. The security offerings unite smart card and biometric
          technologies, complex data management capabilities and
          industry-specific solutions to clients around the world.
        Smart Cards
    *** U.S. Army and SCM Microsystems Smart Card Readers
          SCM Microsystems, Inc. a provider of solutions that open the
          Digital World, and Logicon, a Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) company,
          announced they are working together to supply smart card readers to
          the U.S. Army. To date, 50,000 SCM readers have been delivered as
          part of the initial deployment.
    *** SCM Microsystems & AuthenTec Announce Partnership
          SCM Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMM, Neuer Markt: SMY), a provider
          of solutions that open the Digital World and AuthenTec, Inc., a
          provider of advanced biometric semiconductor technology, announced
          a partnership to develop readers incorporating biometrics, a market
          predicted to reach $1.9 billion by 20051. SCM will deliver to
          businesses a single solution based on smart card technology,
          requiring fingerprint identification to provide high-level security
          for laptop computers.
    *** Fingerprint Verification Competition From FVC2000 organizers
          Academic Research Groups and Companies are invited to register and
          submit algorithms to FVC2002. ANONYMOUS participation is possible.
          Please visit the FVC2002 WEB SITE
          (http://bias.csr.unibo.it/fvc2002/) where you can find CALL FOR
          Participation, DEADLINES, REGISTRATION FORM, and all the other
          relevant info.
    *** "An Introduction to Biometrics" by Endorse Systems Limited
          ESL is hosting 3 one-day training seminars which will provide
          delegates with an insight into the various biometric technologies,
          show how they can be utilized in key applications and how the
          technology can create real business opportunities.
          The cost per delegate is 350 + VAT. Seminars will be held at: -
          Endorse Systems Ltd, Trinity House, 41 Billing Road, Northampton,
          NN1 5BA, UK on the following dates: - December 4, 2001 March 12,
          To book e-mail; Debbie.atkinsat_private For further
          information, please http://www.endorsesystems.com
    *** Successful Strategies for Rolling Out Biometric Technologies Dec. 6-7
          December 6-7, 2001 at the Double Tree Guest Suites Hotel in New
          York City. Successful Strategies for Rolling Out Biometric
          Technologies will provide you with the evaluations, experiences,
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          business. Join us as the experts and end-users of biometrics
          discuss invaluable strategies, key lessons learned, and case
          studies of successful biometrics development and implementation.
          For detailed information, including registration or brochure
          requests, please go to the conference website at
          http://www.srinstitute.com/cm368 or contact the organizer at
    *** Aviation Security Seminar Set for Feb. 4-5.2002
          The Advanced Learning Institute announced scheduling of a 2-day
          conference focusing on airport and airline security issues. The
          conference is set for February 4-5, 2002 in Washington DC. Mark
          your calendars. Information details to follow. The Advanced
          Learning Institute just completed its 5th Biometrics Summit this
          past week in Las Vegas. Approximately 80 individuals representing a
          wide range of companies and organizations participated in the
    *** States Tightening License Rules
          Several states are changing the rules for obtaining drivers'
          licenses, particularly for foreign nationals, as a result of the
          Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Before the attacks, the nation's main
          form of identification was issued according to loosely enforced
          standards set by each state. Law enforcement officials say the 19
          terror hijackers used drivers' licenses to open bank accounts and
          rent cars and apartments. Now, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan
          and others are tightening regulations, and some are considering new
          licenses that would include biometric data such as fingerprints or
          retinal patterns.
    *** DynCorp Signs Memorandum of Agreement with AcSys Biometrics
          Nexus Group International Inc. (NXS:TSE) announced that DynCorp
          International LLC, a Fort Worth, Texas-based unit of DynCorp - a $2
          billion information technology and outsourcing solutions firm - and
          AcSys Biometrics Corp. have signed a Memorandum of Agreement to
          pursue international development applications including those that
          have been brought to the fore by certain ICAO initiatives.
    *** Cambridge Neurodynamics Wins Security Award
          Cambridge Neurodynamics has won its second security award for its
          3D facial recognition product - Tridentity. The Security Excellence
          award for Best Security Innovation 2001 was presented to Grant
          Garner - Business Development Manager, at the SMT awards dinner in
          London last week. This accolade follows the recent award by the
          British Security Industry for Best Access Control of the Year 2001.
          Tridentity is currently being considered for large Airport, Police,
          Voting and Border control projects worldwide.
    *** ActivCard Acquires Ankari
          ActivCard (Nasdaq: ACTI / Nasdaq Europe:ACTI), a provider of smart
          card and digital identity provisioning products and technology,
          announced it has acquired American Biometric Company LTD, a
          privately held, Ottawa, Canada-based company doing business as
          Ankari. Ankari's software framework provides organizations with the
          ability to verify user access through the use of any combination of
          passwords, digital certificates, security tokens, smart cards, and
          biometrics. Under the terms of the agreement, ActivCard has
          purchased all outstanding shares and stock options of Ankari for
          US$18 million in cash.
    *** Digital Angel Product Launch Scheduled
          Applied Digital Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSX) announced that its
          wholly owned subsidiary, Digital Angel Corporation, has selected
          Monday, November 26 as its official launch date for Digital
          Angel(TM), the first-ever combination of advanced biosensor
          technology and Web-enabled wireless telecommunications linked to
          Global Positioning (GPS). Initial marketing campaigns will focus on
          South Florida, with its high concentration of favorable demographic
    *** SSP Solutions Announces Smart Card Reader with Biometrics
          SSP Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq:SSPX) announced SSP(TM) Biometric 250,
          its smart card reader integrated with fingerprint biometrics.
    *** RS2 Introduces New Automated Voice Software
          RS2 Software Group has announced the introduction of new software
          for automatic voice authorization process (AVAM) to provide
          merchants rapid and efficient response to card transaction approval
          request. The new software has been developed in partnership with
          the Hungarian company Geomant, who specialize in automated call
          center and telecom solutions.
    From: "Xeni Jardin" <xeniat_private>
    To: "Declan McCullagh" <declanat_private>
    Subject: correction:"VA Beach votes to install facecams on streets"
    Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 07:32:05 -0800
    Hi, Declan,
    A minor correction to your subject line: the city already had the actual
    facecams installed; they've been up for about 8 years. The news here is
    that the city decided to add the controversial face-recognition software.
     >From a July, 2001 news item in the local VA beach paper:
    "The Beach has used closed-circuit TV cameras to watch the Oceanfront from
    the 2nd Police Precinct since 1993, largely for checking traffic and
    observing crowds. Under the new system, the 10 cameras would feed images
    of people as they strolled along the Oceanfront to monitors, where the
    software would sort faces against a database of mugshots, looking for a
    match, "
    Following is a story that this same newspaper ran today with more detail,
    and a second story on a public debate in October that preceded the
    software's approval, which included this quote:
    "One panelist, John D. Woodward Jr., senior policy analyst at the RAND
    Corp. think tank, argued that there is no expectation of privacy in a
    public place, and therefore the software could not invade it."
    Heavens. Apparently all those upskirt-wireless-voyeur-cam perverts can now
    party on with impunity if that logic holds, as long as they hang out in
    "public places."
    Beach approves face-matching software
    By AGNES BLUM, The Virginian-Pilot
     November 14, 2001
    VIRGINIA BEACH - The City Council on Tuesday night approved the
    installation of facial-recognition software at the Oceanfront, making
    Virginia Beach the second city in the nation to use the technology.
    When she heard the proposal this summer, Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf had
    expressed skepticism both about the software's ability to work and whether
    it might invade people's privacy.
      But at Tuesday's meeting, the mayor said the events of Sept. 11, and the
    news that two of the hijackers had been in the area made her change her
    From: "Xeni Jardin" <xeniat_private>
    To: "Declan McCullagh" <declanat_private>
    Subject: Reuters on ACLU Fresno facecam faceoff
    Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 22:10:18 -0800
    MIME-Version: 1.0
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    LAT and NPR also covered the ACLU letter today... but to Ms. Abreu's
    credit, the Reuters report delves more into the technology's
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Xeni Jardin [mailto:xeniat_private]
    Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2001 10:08 PM
    To: talkat_private
    Tuesday November 20 7:13 PM ET
    ACLU Challenges Face Scanning at California Airport
    By Elinor Mills Abreu
    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - As airports around the country scramble to
    install new security measures after the Sept. 11 attacks, a leading
    civil rights group is warning that passengers are now in danger of
    machines mistaking them for terrorists.
    The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday asked an airport in
    northern California pioneering the use of facial recognition technology
    to stop scanning passenger faces in a hunt for possible terrorists.
    POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
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