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GAO Asks FBI to Verify Face Recognition Service Accuracy

gao-logoThe Government Accountability Office has called on the FBI to verify the accuracy of the agency’s face recognition service and to check whether systems used by external partners are appropriate for FBI’s use.

GAO said Wednesday that the FBI tested the Next Generation Identification-Interstate Photo System prior to its deployment in order to assess how accurate the matches returned by the face recognition system are within a candidate list of 50.

Law enforcement agencies use NGI-IPS to send search requests for photos to a database of more than 30 million photos in support of criminal investigations.

The FBI said it has not tested the detection rate for candidate list sizes smaller than 50 and has not determined the frequency of errors in NGI-IPS.

“By conducting tests to verify that NGI-IPS is accurate for all allowable candidate list sizes, the FBI would have more reasonable assurance that NGI-IPS provides leads that help enhance, rather than hinder, criminal investigations,” GAO said.

FBI also failed to determine whether the face recognition systems used by states and federal agencies could provide accuracy for FBI investigations, GAO added.

GAO also urged the Attorney General to determine why the FBI failed to publish a privacy impact assessment of NGI-IPS and a System of Records Notice as required under the E-Government Act to protect personally identifiable information.

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