‘Facial recognition technology' is working in New York

| 22 Feb 2012 | 01:43

    ALBANY — The initial results of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles’ use of facial recognition technology to identify fraud cases, which began last February, has been instrumental in identifying more than 1,000 cases of possible fraud, according to state officials. Facial recognition software is used by the DMV to help identify persons across the State who try to obtain more than one driver license or non-driver identification document. The system is designed to advance DMV’s important goals of “one driver, one license” and improving highway safety. Those seeking a second identity document may be trying to do so for a number of reasons including evading license suspensions, stealing an identity, committing financial fraud or presenting a false identity to law enforcement or transportation security officials. Facial recognition software essentially converts DMV’s digital, facial photographs into mathematical algorithms. The software presents trained staff with photo images that have been identified as having similar algorithms. This review includes new photos taken each day at the DMV, as well as about 15 million photos already in DMV’s database. Identity documents associated with a new photo are not produced until any photo identified as a potential match is reviewed by trained staff. The DMV strives to issue each applicant only one identity document and seeking a second identity document is a crime since it requires the submission of a false instrument, said officials. As a result, over 100 felony arrests have been made to date. Arrests have included an Egyptian citizen holding four New York licenses under separate names, one of which was on the Federal “no-fly” list, and a former hit man who sought to establish a second identity after release from prison. In April, DMV’s facial recognition program identified an individual wanted for a 1990’s-era bank robbery in Nassau County. As a result, the individual was arrested by the Nassau County Police Department. Others charged have had license suspensions or a large number of tickets and accidents under multiple identities. The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), a research entity affiliated with the State University of New York, will conduct research on the impact the facial recognition program may have on highway safety. Thus far, of the more than 1000 cases of multiple identities uncovered by the facial recognition program, approximately 67 percent of the individuals holding multiple identities have one or more driving suspensions or revocations in place that appear to have been evaded by their having obtained a second license.