States Use Facial Recognition Technology to Address License Fraud

At least 39 states now use the software in some fashion, and many say they’ve gotten remarkable results…

But critics raise concerns about privacy invasion and potential abuse. While photo database access is limited to the department of motor vehicles (DMV) in some states, others allow sharing with law enforcement.

For a long time, it was hard for states to crack down on identity thieves and fraudsters, given their lack of manpower. But officials say that has no longer been the case since they started using facial recognition. Among the cases uncovered in the last two years:

_In New York, a sanitation worker was charged with impersonating his dead twin brother and collecting more than $500,000 in disability benefits over 20 years.

_In Iowa, a fugitive who escaped from a North Carolina prison while serving time for armed robbery in the 1970s was identified when he tried to apply for a driver’s license using another name.

_In New Jersey, a man was charged with using false identities to get two fraudulent commercial driver’s licenses to drive trucks. His licenses had been suspended 64 times, including six times for DUI convictions.

“A driver’s license is a strong, dependable form of ID,” Slagle said. “We want to make sure the people who are getting the licenses are who they claim to be.” …

One of the ways that people get prescription medications illegally is to use a false driver’s license.  Pharmacist Steve says it’s very important for pharmacists to know the difference between a real and fake driver’s license, and I assume this facial recognition software could also be used for these purposes.  Will pharmacies be the next place we see this technology in practice?

When I moved to New Mexico and had to get a new driver’s license, the DMV used this kind of software to identify me.  I noticed all the cameras when I walked in the door, but first thought they were just for security purposes.  However, they knew the reason I was there before I even walked up to the counter.  Yeah, it was a little freaky.

These facial recognition databases are being used like the PDMPs.  At some point, it’s likely that anyone who fills any type of prescription medication will be included in the PDMPs, especially as this information is shared in some states with pharmacy benefit managers and insurance corporations.  And like with PDMPs, this technology can obviously be abused:

You are walking down the street minding your own business when a police officer taps you on the shoulder from behind. “Excuse me, ma’am,” he says, “Could I see some identification?” You know your rights and you say no. “You don’t really have a choice, ma’am. We have a positive identification of you from a camera that says you are Jill Stokes. Are you Ms. Stokes?” You nod, confused. “You owe the city $500 in parking tickets, ma’am.”

That’s a benign but totally plausible example of how the eradication of anonymity in public via unchecked identification and surveillance technologies will fundamentally change our lives. For even more troubling examples, think about how easily a government agency (or corrupt cop) could identify and track a political activist, whistleblower, or domestic violence survivor in the once-anonymous, bustling streets of our (now surveillance camera laden) cities. The agent or cop doesn’t even need to be in the same city as his target…

Face recognition can only work like it does on CSI if every single one of our faces is in a database accessible to the FBI or to local police. After all, plenty of people are first time criminals. So to catch every criminal using these tools, you’d need to have a database ready with every face in it — whether or not someone has an arrest record, no matter what that arrest record looks like. For many of us, this kind of “guilty until proven innocent,” “everyone is a suspect” policing methodology seems Orwellian and distasteful…

Thanks to federal grant programs from the Department of Transportation, at least 35 states have active face recognition programs at their registries of motor vehicles. The states say they use the software to detect fraud and abuse, for example to catch someone applying for a drivers’ license under a false name when they already have an ID under their real name. But numerous states are increasingly using the face recognition programs for law enforcement purposes, too. And a new FBI program, disclosed to the public in documents submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the July 2012 hearing on face recognition, makes good use of that federally-funded face recognition technology at motor vehicle registries nationwide for purposes quite apart from fraud detection…

The FBI is working with a number of states to bolster the locals’ face recognition capabilities, as well:

“In February 2012, the state of Michigan successfully completed an end-to-end Facial Recognition Pilot transaction and is currently submitting facial recognition searches to CJIS. MOUs have also been executed with Hawaii and Maryland, and South Carolina, Ohio, and New Mexico are engaged in the MOU review process for Facial Recognition Pilot participation. Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Missouri are also interested in Facial Recognition Pilot participation.” …

4 thoughts on “States Use Facial Recognition Technology to Address License Fraud

  1. It’s coming whether we like it or not. Like all technology, it will both help and hurt us. However, if it can identify legitimate patients help prevent people from getting opioids illegally, it will be a tremendous boon to patients.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if a doctor could just write us our opioid prescription and not have to worry we’re getting the same prescription from a dozen other docs? It will have drawbacks for sure, but I general, we can kiss our privacy goodbye these days with cameras everywhere. We have to remember that it’s not like someone is sitting there watching us (who would have time to monitor millions of people on millions of cameras?) but only gets used after a problem shows up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the reasons doctor-shopping exists is because so many patients are suffering from the non-treatment, mistreatment or under-treatment of their pain, whether we’re talking about chronic pain or drug addiction. The more restrictions that are placed on access, the worse the problems become. Without a better plan to treat pain and addiction, the only thing these restrictions do is create more harm.

      Sure, these restrictions won’t harm all patients, but I think it’s awfully sad that some are willing to give up their rights just so they can continue to enjoy privileged access. It reminds me of how those who are working to restrict access to family planning services are also advocating from a privileged status, looking down on poor women with few choices. Drugs are a part of health care and no one should be denied access — until that happens, the discrimination and the drug war will continue.

      It’s not just a matter of privacy — it’s a matter of our rights. How many are you willing to give up?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Willing? It’s more like coerced. Like those humiliating “pain contracts”. After all these years (20) of using opioids exactly as (or less than) prescribed, I was blindsided when my good doc handed me one of those to sign this year. (Her medical group required them, not she)

        I always said I wouldn’t sign one, but there I was, facing it and knowing my life as I know it was at stake. Yes, I wanted to tear it up and storm out of the office, but… I’m not sure life would be worth living if my pain were untreated.

        She probably sensed what I was going through and kindly stepped out of the room to let me deal with it privately. I cried and raged and paced in a blind fury for quite a while, but finally convinced myself it was just another meaningless formality. My doc had no control over it and I obviously didn’t either, since I’d done nothing to deserve such distrust and punitive scrutiny.

        So I chose to sign it, though my eyes still sting with embarrassed tears when I think of it. I have a history of outspoken rebellion against unjust “rules and regulations”, but this time I felt my life was threatened. No one else cares and no one else is affected, but it left a putrid taste in my mouth that I still can’t rinse away.

        You really hit a sore spot with your question. And, yes, I know this sensitivity is just a personal problem of mine (and only one of many!)

        Liked by 1 person

        • I didn’t have the same response to signing the contract — when there’s no choice, it’s not really a choice. I didn’t even hesitate, I just signed it. But I did find the urine tests rather humbling. Never had to go through a pill count though, which I would think is also embarrassing. When you’re treated like a child, you feel like one. I guess that would make the doctor and the DEA my father-figures — the ones who have control over me — which is just… creepy. And totally against my rights.

          Liked by 1 person

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