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

By Aaron Kesel

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.

Hat Tip: MassPrivateI

Image Credit: The Conversation

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13 Comments on "Arizona Citizens Tracked In Facial Recognition Database In First Step For REAL ID Implementation"

  1. Alice On Morphine | December 4, 2017 at 10:12 pm | Reply

    Arizona is a cesspool of abuses committed by the criminals-with-badges/uniforms/robes. How the hell this state’s citizens (and the citizens of other states where these practises increasingly abound) put up with 24/7 police facial/license plate recognition surveillance would confound this nation’s Founders. Oh, and as everybody should know by now, this comes on top of indescribably-intrusive in-home and aerial/space-based surveillance by the Federal agencies.

  2. and silly people put this on the iphone

  3. The US Government was the perpetrator of 911. DEATH TO TRAITORS !

  4. Psychic Warrior | December 5, 2017 at 7:46 am | Reply

    You don’t need a drivers license to drive; just the ability to manipulate the device. The US Constitution guarantees your liberty (movement) if you are a non-commercial entity; you do not need a license. Don’t comply; just drive and be happy and pursue your life in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Nullify on a personal level and you will become a real person participating in your democracy as a sovereign citizen – be your own god. This government is bankrupt and is no longer in charge of anything. Live it and you are free, love yourself first in order to love others. FREEDOM!!!

  5. When this first leaked out over 5 years ago, I spent six months in Canada where I traded my Arizona driver’s license for an Ontario one. Next, I need to figure out how to get a Canadian passport to defeat Border Patrol.

  6. The Real ID Act has all but two states that have already signed on and those are pending if you care to look up the government’s Real ID act compliance. There is no constitution. It was gone a long time ago as the writers of the Bill of Rights didn’t expect it to last. Federalists (republicans) hated the idea and fought against it. So much for small government and federalism. I’m sure most don’t know that the founding “Father’s” were lying masonic worshippers of Lucifer which they always were and are today of the Septuagint, Talmud and Kabbalah. Some Deists but have any of you read the writings of John Dee? NOOO. America was a farce from the beginning to get out from under the Monarchy and under the Crown Corporation of London. Next masonic revolution was France, Russia, China and genocide is what they do, then and now.

    In case you don’t know the talmud, read Ovediah Yosef’s definition of goyim. People act little different than their sheep cousins, believing they are making decisions for themselves while going to school to be fed lies of history, social sciences and other crap to make you behave and regurgitate the right answers. People take two sides of a Hobson’s choice where the end is always predetermined and the people get an illusion of choice.

    Since the ancient times of religion with their rabbis and priests, you have had no choice if you join. Money is your god as it is said, the God of the Heathen are Gold and Silver. Both more valuable to human monkeys than life itself to the point of destruction of all of the planet and all living things as everything has a price.

    In short, we get the government we deserve, most of this is from DARPA (go OOSSEH OOSSEH…) and other nations are doing the same i.e. Russia, China, UK (Ugliest nation in history), France and others. As Samuel Johnson stated in 1775, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. It is a tactic used for group think. We are now paying the price on all facets of life, from Bio/Geo-engineering, contrived wars, resource scoundrels that now believe water is the next oil and will put it on the market of commodities, DARPA’s TCP/IP to get into any device, GMO poisoned food that you have to buy the seeds from as you will not be able to re-use seeds of your own to maximize profit and minimize the bounty of creation.

    We are all dead in the water (literally). Read of Admiralty law or the law of the sea. That is how corporations run and our land based life is meaningless except for what profit it can provide.

    • Alice On Morphine | December 5, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Reply

      your lips are moving but the American people do not hear a word you’re saying. (Yes, I read the 1783 Treaty Of Paris, which was rather hurriedly signed by both parties at the end, when Louis XVI and Rochambeau sent Lafayette with a combined Spanish-French armada and 25,000-man army to “help” Washington towards true freedom. The Treaty ceded virtually nothing strategically nothing to the Americans, and left it to the bankers to take everything when George III went bonkers)

  7. Mr. Ver… Seriously dude, what the phuque are you waiting for?

  8. “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…”

    That’s funny, the Supreme Court has already ruled that it is unconstitutional far a state to require a license to travel freely on a public road.

  9. I live in Peoria, Arizona. The mayor here is erecting portable police manned surveillance towers in parking lots. I was told that it was for security purposes. It always is.

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