US

Facial Recognition Technology Helps NY Law Enforcement Catch 100 Identity Thieves

New York officials have used updated facial recognition technology to arrest more than 100 people accused of identity theft since January. The state was also able to resolve an additional 900 suspected cases in that time frame.

The increase in apprehension is credited to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which improved its facial recognition technology by creating additional measurements for a driver’s photograph.

The measurement points of the face were doubled from 64 to 128 to further distinguish between bone structure. The updated system also improves detection capabilities for unique features like scars and birthmarks. According to a press release from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, changes in hair and additional accessories do not stop the system from matching different photos.

Identity thieves are usually charged with forgery, filing a false instrument, and tampering with public records. Swindlers are also known to cross state borders in order to commit insurance fraud, dodge traffic tickets and circumvent a state’s legal practices.

“Facial recognition plays a critical role in keeping our communities safer by cracking down on individuals who break the law,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York is leading the nation with this technology, and the results from our use of this enhanced technology are proof positive that its use is vital in making our roads safer and holding fraudster accountable.”

Since 2010 when New York first applied the technology, 3,800 individuals have been arrested for having multiple licenses. Ten-thousand eight-hundred other cases have been solved administratively and without arrests due to expiration of statute of limitations in which violators have all penalties and convictions transferred to the their true identity.

Many privacy advocates have been critical of law enforcement using this technology because they worry it opens the doors to unnecessary government gathering of personal information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the FBI in 2013 for access to its facial-recognition records because it feared the practice would “result in a massive expansion of government data collection for both criminal and noncriminal purposes,” according to Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch.

Facial recognition technology is in use for other means as well. Microsoft patented a billboard in 2008 that recognizes people, identifies their purchase histories, and subsequently tailors advertisements to personal preferences.

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