A year ago, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine had quietly launched facial recognition software to search Ohio driver’s license photos. Without notifying Ohioans, the state allowed more than 26,500 police officers and court employees to upload a snapshot and try to identify the person in it, from any device with an Internet connection. A year later, the facial recognition system still has fewer restrictions for its use than other systems around the U.S., and commonplace features to secure the system are still months from implementation, the Enquirer says.
DeWine has cut the number of users by nearly 80 percent and eliminated all access by out-of-state law enforcement agencies. The changes are intended to limit the opportunities someone might have to misuse the system – say, by uploading a snapshot of an attractive passerby and using the software to identify him. Officials say the remaining users need access to the system to identify crime suspects using images, such as from a security camera. Critics say the system is still too permissive. Ohio’s access is wide in part because its statewide law enforcement database is unmatched in other states. The state with the closest system, North Carolina, limits facial recognition use to a handful of fraud investigators.