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San Diego Gets in Your Face With New Mobile Identification System
Posted: 08-Nov-2013 [Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation]

[The San Diego regional planning agency, SANDAG, has been quietly rolling out a new mobile face recognition system that will sharply change how police conduct simple stops on Americans.]

Jennifer Lynch -- The system, which allows officers to use mobile devices to collect face images out in the field, already has a database of 1.4 million images and serves nearly 25 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the region.

Over the summer, EFF sent a California Public Records Act request to SANDAG for more information on the program. From the records we received, we’ve learned that the program, called “TACIDS” (Tactical Identification System), serves law enforcement agencies as diverse as the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the DEA, ICE, the California Highway Patrol and even the San Diego Unified School District. The officers use a Samsung tablet or Android mobile phone to take a picture of a person “in the field” and run that picture against databases of mugshot photos and DMV images from across several states to learn his or her identity. According to users, the system returns high-accuracy results in about eight seconds.

The Center for Investigative Reporting published an in-depth report on the program today, based in part on research conducted by EFF and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

The devices are supposed to be issued to “terrorism liaison” officers, but none of the documentation so far has shown any nexus between TACIDS use and terrorist activities.

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