Millions of faces, fingerprints and palm prints are stored in German police databases. Law enforcement agencies are also processing more and more biometric data at the EU level.
The comparison of photographs by German police authorities has again increased sharply in the past year. This is shown by statistics based on information provided by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in a parliamentary interpellation. According to this, a total of 76,535 queries were made in the facial recognition system of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in 2020. The year before, there were still around 54,000 queries, so the increase is more than a third (2018: 41,000, 2017: 27,000). According to the statistics, most of the searches come from the criminal investigation offices, which is also where the greatest increase was recorded.
Since 2009, the BKA has made it possible for the state criminal investigation offices and the Federal Police to identify unknown persons with the help of the central police information system (INPOL-Z). In the database, the BKA stores photographs mainly from the identification service. The „Z“ stands for „central file“, which is kept by the BKA but filled by all police authorities. „Facial recognition at German police authorities increased by more than a third“ weiterlesen
The comparison of police photographs in Austria and Germany was provided by the Cognitech company from Dresden. In both countries the technology was used in investigations after political assemblies. In future, the EU wants to make facial image searches possible in all member states.
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Austria also uses its new facial recognition software for investigations into political assemblies. This was reported by „Der Standard“ with reference to unspecified documents. According to the magazine, the police use the application to analyse photographs of demonstrations that took place in the Favoriten district of Vienna in summer. At that time, Turkish right-wing extremists had attacked and injured first feminist and then Kurdish and anti-fascist activists. In the course of the several days of fighting, a leftist center was also attacked. „Police in Austria use facial recognition for demonstrations“ weiterlesen
Queries of biometric photographs in the INPOL file are increasing drastically; at the Federal Police they have more than tripled in comparison with the previous year. Face recognition is also becoming increasingly successful, with twice as many people being identified as in 2018.
In public spaces, police authorities in Germany do not use facial recognition in real time, but retrospectively. The technology is intended to identify unknown persons whose photos were taken by video surveillance, for example, near crime scenes. After the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, the police there also wanted to determine suspected criminals with facial recognition, but the success was poor.
The biometric facial images with which the photos of unknown persons are compared are stored in the police database INPOL-Z. Although it is centrally managed by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), it is operated together with the state criminal investigation offices. The Federal Police can also access it. The number of photographs stored with personal data in INPOL has once again risen significantly, with around 5.8 million portrait photographs of 3.65 million people. Compared to 2018, the increase is about five percent (310,000 photos). „Significantly more facial recognition at German police“ weiterlesen
The International Police Organisation is developing a system to identify unknown persons by facial images. Interpol stores photos and videos from Internet service providers and other companies in a separate database. Interpol has also been using Clearview services for face recognition.
The US company Clearview AI has collected around three billion personal images from the Internet and used them to create a facial recognition database. This was reported in the New York Times six weeks ago. Most of the pictures were taken from social media profile photos, and it is likely that Clearview will also store the corresponding user data. Clearview offers companies and government agencies the option of identifying individuals by querying the database. According to reports, the facial images can also be searched with a photo app, which according to the New York Times is distributed among „rich people“.
The U.S. magazine Buzzfeed has obtained a client list from Clearview. It contains over 2,200 companies, governments and police authorities, including Interpol. The worldwide police organization has conducted more than 320 searches. „Clearview AI: What does Interpol use face recognition for?“ weiterlesen
Despite an instruction by the Data Protection Commissioner, the police of the Hanseatic city does not want to do without its new face recognition system. In four weeks, the Administrative Court will rule about the dissolution of a specially created database. Without waiting for the verdict, the state government withdraws the sharpest sword from the top data protector.
Even after the deletion order by Johannes Caspar, the Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, the police in Hamburg continue to use a face recognition system. This was written by the red-green senate in response to an inquiry by the left-wing faction in the Hamburg parliament. Since 18 December 2018, a further 92 searches have been carried out in image and video files. This brings the total number of searches for suspects to 782. „Face recognition after G20: Police in Hamburg laughs at Data Protection Commissioner“ weiterlesen
In the Prüm Treaty, the police search for biometric data among EU Member States is significantly simplified. Under Austria’s leadership, the extension is now being examined for facial recognition. A corresponding Council decision could already be taken next year.
The European Union wants to make it much easier for the police to cross-check biometric data. This concerns mugshots or photographs that are stored in police databases after identification by the police. If an authority wants to determine the identity of a person using a photograph, each EU Member State must currently be contacted individually. It is therefore planned to set up a system that will allow data to be searched simultaneously in each country. „European Union plans borderless query of facial images“ weiterlesen
The Hamburg police have been researching facial analysis software for several years, which was then used for the first time after the G20 summit. The technology accesses the nationwide INPOL file for criminal offenders maintained by the Federal Criminal Police Office. The detection rates are meagre, but the system is still to be used permanently in Hamburg for the „processing of major events“.
The face analysis software used by the Hamburg Special Commission „Schwarzer Block“ („Black Block“) has led to the identification of only three people. This was written by the Hamburg Senate in response to a question by Christiane Schneider, a member of parliament. The Special Commission, which was set up after the G20 summit, uses the face recognition software „Videmo360“ from the company Videmo, which processes all common image and video formats. „G20 in Hamburg: Data protection commissioner considers face recognition illegal“ weiterlesen
The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is expanding its capabilities for biometric face recognition. For this purpose, the performance of the central face recognition system (GES), with which the BKA has been able to search its databases since 2008, is to be reviewed. The Office will then decide whether a new facial recognition system should be procured or whether the existing 2D system should be „upgraded“. The GES searches the electronic police information system at the BKA (known as INPOL), which currently contains over 4 million searchable photographs. The Federal Ministry of the Interior reported 26,879 searches for 2017 (2016: 23,064, 2015: 16,773). Until 2015, the BKA had participated in the „GES-3D“ project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. For the identification of people from photo and video data, ear recognition is also integrated. The aim of this study should be to switch to such a 3D system. „More face recognition at the German Federal Criminal Police“ weiterlesen
Law enforcement agencies increasingly rely on facial recognition systems. In addition to their use in identifying criminals, these might also be used in future to perform automatic matching against appropriate databases of everyone crossing an external border of the EU. Interpol is also considering searching through images on social networks.
Following a two-year trial period the international police organisation Interpol has launched a new facial recognition system. This system, called MorphoFace Investigate, complements a database currently used by law enforcement agencies for fingerprint storage and crime-solving.
Developed by the French company Safran Identity & Security, it allows a range of image and video formats to be processed. In the first instance, data on persons wanted by Interpol or reported as missing are being used. Photos held in two relevant databases are presently being checked for their quality and, if suitable for facial recognition, will then be entered into the new database. „Interpol launches new facial recognition database“ weiterlesen
Last week, the European Commission published its proposal to recast the EURODAC Regulation, which includes plans for longer storage periods, an expansion of data categories and comparison capabilities, and mandatory fingerprinting and photographing. To date, EURODAC has been used for comparison of fingerprints.
Now the system is also to store facial images and facial recognition capabilities are to be added. There are two different search options. When checks are taking place, people’s images can be compared with available personal data to verify their identity (known as 1:1 matching). However, it is also possible to search for a face in the entire database (1:n). „EU adds facial recognition capabilities to police databases“ weiterlesen