TECH

The NSA Is Collecting Millions Of Faces From The Web

02/06/2014 10:00 BST

The National Security Agency is collecting images of millions of faces as part of its facial recognition database, reports the New York Times.

Reminiscent of a spy thriller, the NSA has reportedly turned to facial recognition more and more, however for it to work efficiently the software must have a massive range of images to draw upon.

According to the report by the New York Times, the NSA intercepts around 55,000 images per day that are of 'facial recognition quality'.

In case you're wondering if that means the NSA has pictures of you at that BBQ last weekend then we'd probably hold off worrying just yet, the initiative seems to be focused on only grabbing images from cable taps, internet forums and satellite transmissions.

The NSA is, at present, refusing to comment on whether it takes images from Facebook or social media however it has acknowledged that it actually doesn't have access to state databases.

This is apparently just a small part of the US Government's nationwide initiative to increase its ability to recognise faces in a crowd.

In a statement to the NY Times, agency spokesperson Vanee M. Vines defends the agency's image policy saying:

“We would not be doing our job if we didn’t seek ways to continuously improve the precision of signals intelligence activities — aiming to counteract the efforts of valid foreign intelligence targets to disguise themselves or conceal plans to harm the United States and its allies,”

It's not just the US Government that's using new recognition technology. Both Apple and Google use advanced recognition tech like the Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5s and Google's Face Unlock feature on Android.

Both companies however have gone to extreme lengths to make sure the data is store locally on the phone with no chance of outside access with the fingerprints on an iPhone 5s being allocated their own separate storage, disconnected from the rest of the phone.