By the AllClear ID Team
Vanessa here with AllClear ID. In Rhode Island, driver licenses arenâ€™t just sitting in peopleâ€™s pockets; theyâ€™re also stored in a computer system thatâ€™s used to combat identity theft.
A news report by the NBC station Channel 10 in Providence reports that the Department of Motor Vehicles in Rhode Island is using a facial recognition-based system in its license and ID card issuance programs in an effort to curb identity fraud.
The system can compare all the photos taken for state-issued ID cards and run them through the face-recognition software to check if an individual has more than one license under different names. It can also be used to help police track down suspects.
Sounds like a good crime-fighting tool, right? The American Civil Liberties Union isnâ€™t so positive. Itâ€™s worried that the use of facial-recognition biometrics with all the stored state ID pictures could be an invasion of privacy.
ACLU representative Hillary Davis told NBC 10,Â “You have this situation where individuals are being flagged as someone they are not, and the onus is on them to prove they are who they say they are because this computer, for whatever reason, has brought up their image. How well is this technology working? Is facial recognition software something that is accurate 100 percent of the time?â€
Just up north, a driver sued the Massachusetts DMV, claiming he was mistaken for someone else.
But the Rhode Island DMV maintains that the program is only used when fraud is suspected, and they donâ€™t prosecute or suspend a license based on the computer results alone.
Illinois, one of the first states to adopt facial recognition programs, says their program has been a huge success, finding more than 5,000 cases of identity fraud from 1997 to 2007. Of the cases, 4,600 involved people with one fraudulent identification, and 600 cases involved people with two or more fraudulent identifications.
And the trend is growing, with biometric-based facial recognition technology now being used in approximately 20 states.