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How to find out which facial recognition databases you may be in

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How to find out which facial recognition databases you may be in

Call me paranoid privacy conscious, but I don’t relish the thought of being present in too many government databases. This is especially so given the exorbitant levels of nation-state cyber activity and historically poor U.S. government data protection track records (I am looking at you, OPM). Alas, extensive public services ensure that I am forever…

How to find out which facial recognition databases you may be in

Call me paranoid privacy conscious, but I don’t relish the thought of being present in too many government databases. This is especially so given the exorbitant levels of nation-state cyber activity and historically poor U.S. government data protection track records (I am looking at you, OPM). Alas, extensive public services ensure that I am forever associated with Uncle Sam and his environs. But not all hope is lost.

Thankfully, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) created a project aimed at increasing our understanding of government facial recognition databases. The EFF is a well-known non-profit organization dedicated to defending civil liberties in the digital world.

For the creation of this project, titled “Who Has Your Face,” the EFF worked with Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology to review “thousands of pages of public records” and determine the extent to which our photos are being used for facial recognition purposes. This comes in the form of a basic online quiz you can take to view the likelihood that your face is included in various government databases.

In SOFREP, we are major proponents of digital security and privacy. We believe that a core duty of the informed citizenry involves educating oneself on matters involving fundamental rights and civil liberties — of which, we believe, privacy is a part.

Knowing whether my face is in the FBI, Colorado Dept of Public Safety, DHS, DoD, or other databases is a great starting point in assessing the implications of digital encroachment to those fundamental rights.

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Unfortunately, EFF’s research indicated that it is all but impossible to “opt-out” of various databases shared among government agencies. However, we can at least begin with the first step in understanding any problem, which is educating ourselves on the issue, its implications, and severity. EFF’s “Who Has Your Face” project is an excellent resource for individuals wishing to do just that and better inform their actions.

Shameless self-plug: SOFREP is also preparing the release of a digital security guide. It will assist readers in better understanding their digital security and privacy. It will also provide concrete, SOF-reviewed recommendations on how to act in order to regain your digital security and privacy. In an easily digestible (figuratively, come on) electronic format.

In addition to the digital security guide, which is expected early next month, there are a number of publicly available resources on digital security and privacy. Some of them are: Privacy Tools; Surveillance Self-Defense; IntelTechniques; Freedom of the Press Foundation; Security-in-a-box.

Thanks for listening.

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