LEDE: A government watchdog has the FBI's facial recognition database in its sights.
The Government Accountability Office said Wednesday that it had determined that the FBI's Next Generation Identification-Interstate Photo System wasn't tested very well for accuracy. The agency only performed "limited" testing for when agents wanted to summon lists of more than 50 potential matches, and did none for smaller groups. They also didn't test the many other federal and state databases the FBI can use during criminal investigations.
"By taking such steps, the FBI could better ensure the data received from external partners is sufficiently accurate and do not unnecessarily include photos of innocent people as investigative leads," the watchdog said.
In total, the GAO made six recommendations. In addition to more testing, they recommended that the Justice Department determine why certain privacy documents hadn't been published on time.
Privacy advocates also balked at the scale of the Bureau's facial recognition program.
"This report is startling. For years, we've known that the FBI was building a database of faces and fingerprints for state and local police and for the FBI itself," said Alvaro Bedoya, the executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University's law school. "Today, we learned that database pales in comparison to a separate FBI program that runs face recognition searches on well over 170 million driver's license photos from sixteen states." For more, click here.
FRANKEN PROMISES 'TOUGH QUESTIONS': Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-Minn.), a privacy advocate in the upper chamber, expressed dismay at the report. "Facial recognition technology is a new and powerful tool that holds great promise for law enforcement. But if we don't ensure its accuracy and guard against misuse, I am concerned about the risk of innocent Americans being inadvertently swept up in criminal investigations," he said, adding that "people across the country need more information about how this technology is being used and how it will affect their lives, which is why I will be asking tough questions about the FBI's use of facial recognition technology and its plans to improve the testing, transparency, and privacy protections of its system."
PRIVACY ADVOCATES FRUSTRATED: Privacy advocates said they were frustrated by a document produced by NTIA's multistakeholder process to develop voluntary guidelines for using facial recognition. "At a minimum, businesses should notify consumers and seek permission when facial technology is used, especially if it's being deployed to track them in public or inform decisions on issues such as employment, health care, credit, or housing. The best practices don't even do that," said CDT's Michelle De Mooy. "Industry can and must do better.
HOLDER GOES TO BAT FOR UBER: Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderChristie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group Democrats look to state courts as redistricting battle heats up On The Trail: Census kicks off a wild redistricting cycle MORE is going to bat for Uber in the fight over what types of background checks the company should use for its drivers.
Holder wrote three letters earlier this month to local and state officials urging them not to require fingerprint-based background checks for purposes unrelated to law enforcement. Click here for more.
TWO TAKES ON NET NEUTRALITY AND OBAMA'S LEGACY:
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.): "Historians will do the measuring. I'm saying that it is part of his legacy. This is the most transformative tool in the history of our country. And he understood what it represented and what was needed to keep it that way."
University of Pennsylvania Law School professor Christopher Yoo: "I think it would have been more harmful if he lost the case to his legacy. But the idea that this would be remembered 50 years from now as a major accomplishment in the Obama legacy, we'll have to wait and see."
WOULD SCOTUS TAKE UP THE NET NEUTRALITY CASE?: Yoo, a net neutrality skeptic, predicted it is unlikely that the Supreme Court would take up an appeal to the D.C. Circuit's opinion upholding the FCC's net neutrality rules. He said the court usually doesn't take up cases just because the issue is important, noting that many times the court takes up cases to settle differences in the lower courts.
"My guess is Supreme Court review is unlikely," he said. "It's hard -- many people have seen [that] trying to predict what courts can do is hazardous. So any predictions of that nature have to be heavily qualified, because courts often surprise you by the things they take and the things that they don't."
NEWS OUTLETS WANT NATIONAL SECURITY LETTER INFO: A large group of news organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a federal court in San Francisco backing a lawsuit against the Justice Department. They are asking the agency to hand over information about National Security Letters that have been used to target journalists. The case brought by the Freedom of the Press Foundation stems back to new safeguards put in place by the Justice Department after it came under fire in 2013. A National Security Letter is a tool law enforcement can use during foreign intelligence investigations to obtain customer information from companies without a warrant.
GOOGLE SAYS IT'S STAYING NEUTRAL IN 2016: Eric Schmidt, an executive at Google's parent company, said the search giant has "not taken a position on the American election and nor do I expect us to." He made the comments, according to CNET, at an event in London. Schmidt did say that Google employees tend to be more liberal. In the primary, The Hill previously found that Google employees donated over $500,000 to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Mobile visitors continue to outpace those from desktops for news sites, according to a study out Wednesday.
The House is gearing up to take a new stab at reforming U.S. surveillance powers, after overwhelmingly passing similar measures in the past but failing to get them signed into law.
The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved a bill to exempt small internet service providers from rules included in sweeping net neutrality regulations approved last year.
Major venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who donated to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, scoffed when asked at a tech conference why he is supporting Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, over Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE.
The departments of Homeland Security and Justice say that recent legislation lets businesses share cyber threat information with industry interests as well as government.
A Kosovo man has pleaded guilty to stealing the personal information of over 1,000 U.S. servicemen and federal employees and sending it to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which published it as a "kill list."