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    USA Today: Intelligence agency seeks facial recognition upgrade

    USA Today reports that the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking to create an expansive facial-recognition technology program, which could affect individuals’ privacy rights:

    Called Janus, the program run by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), “seeks to improve face recognition performance using representations developed from real-world video and images instead of from calibrated and constrained collections. During daily activities, people laugh, smile, frown, yawn and morph their faces into a broad variety of expressions.

    For each face, these expressions are formed from unique skeletal and musculature features that are similar through one’s lifetime. Janus representations will exploit the full morphological dynamics of the face to enable better matching and faster retrieval.”

    Documents released by IARPA over the weekend show that the Janus program will start in April 2014 and run for four years. During that time, the agency hopes to “radically expand the range of conditions under which automated face recognition can establish identity.” […]

    Civil liberties groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have raised concerns about unchecked uses of facial recognition software.

    Janus and IARPA’s increased interest in facial recognition software raises significant privacy issues, said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. Coupled with the rapidly increasing number of surveillance cameras around the country, facial recognition software “represents a quantum leap in the amount of surveillance taking place in public places.”

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