oregon to use face recognition for driver’s licenses

oregon to use face recognition for driver's licensesfrom seattle times: In an effort to curtail identity theft, the 2005 Legislature directed the state Department of Transportation to use facial recognition software before issuing driver’s licenses.

The deadline for putting the changes into effect is the summer of 2008, but the conversion to the new system has started…

“The computer will spit out possible matches, and if it looks like an attempt at fraud, we don’t issue a license and notify law enforcement,” said David House, a spokesman for the Driver and Motor Vehicles Services Division

The Department of Transportation is contracting with Beaverton-based Digimarc to do the image scanning and the centralized production of licenses.

The images will not be shared with other state governments, or the federal government, House said, so it will still be possible for a person to go across state lines to obtain a duplicate identification…

The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the system during the 2005 legislative session and hasn’t changed its stance. The ACLU says facial-recognition software results in more false alarms than positive identifications. It says such systems are easily fooled by changes in hairstyle, facial hair or body weight, by simple disguises, and by the effects of aging.

But state Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, said any uneasiness about Big Brother is unwarranted. “If there is a trade-off, I would lean toward protection of the people for ID theft, and that’s a big problem in the fight against meth,” he said.

The Federal Trade Commissions Identity Theft Clearinghouse said Oregon had the 13th highest rate of reported ID theft in the country in 2006, with 76.1 victims per 100,000 people.

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