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Edward R. La Rue
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Big brother wants a better look?

People often worry about the concentration of power in a government agency. One of the most powerful government agencies in the U.S. is the FBI. The law enforcement agency has thousands of agents and a vast budget. It controls numerous large databases, which contain millions of records of those charged with crimes and those only under investigation.

One of those databases contains more than 411 million photographs of individuals. Apparently, they are interested in obtaining the 24 million photos held in an Ohio database. While they have yet to make a formal request, the FBI has been in discussion with the Ohio Attorney General.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) has sent a letter to the attorney general that recommends the Attorney General's office refuse that request, should one arrive. They point to the FBI's poor record of protecting privacy and problems with the facial recognition software that is likely to be employed with the photos.

The ACLU at a minimum wants residents in Ohio to be aware that such discussions are ongoing and that many who have never been subject to criminal charges could nonetheless have their photos processed by the FBI and be exposed to the risk of misidentification by the software.

Errors with facial recognition software could leave individuals subject to arrest or investigation by the FBI. Such investigation could lead to wrongful prosecutions, damage to your reputation, create embarrassment and costly bills to mount a defense to prove your innocence.

Such systems should be subject to oversight and the public should be aware that such databases exist and they could become enmeshed in a nightmarish effort to clear their name due to misidentification.

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Edward R. La Rue
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Cleveland, OH 44113

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