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States Use Facial Recognition Technology to Address Driver's License Fraud

July 16, 2015  | 

States increasingly are foiling crooks and scam artists by employing a high-tech tool: facial recognition software. The software uses algorithms of facial characteristics to compare driver's license or ID photos with other DMV images on file, reports Governing.com.

At least 39 states now use the software in some fashion, and many say they've gotten remarkable results. In New York, thousands of people with false identities have been arrested, and even in the less populous state of Nebraska, hundreds have. Two states—New Jersey and New York—are now working together on a project to identify certain types of violators, a step that other states may follow.

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.

"It's not a panacea, but it's another great tool in our arsenal to tie the driver to the record," said Raymond Martinez, chairman of New Jersey's DMV. "Our goal is one driver, one record. We have to be able to know that an individual can't just game the system and get a license under another name."

New York and New Jersey are working on a pilot project that uses both states' photo databases to pinpoint drivers with commercial licenses who have had multiple violations and are getting licenses with phony identities and crossing state borders. Martinez said it's the first state-to-state project, but he suspects others will pick up on it.


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