Sunday 08 December 2019

Dutch police facial recognition database includes 1.3 million people

A database used by the Dutch police for facial recognition technology currently includes 1.3 million people and 2.2 million photos, according to research by Vice.

A photo is added to the database if someone is suspected of committing a crime with a jail sentence of at least four years attached.

‘It is a bizarre number’, Lotte Houwing of privacy lobby group Bits of Freedom told the website.

As yet, there is no real debate in the Netherlands about facial recognition technology, and what discussion there is takes place ‘behind the screen’, Houwing said.

‘Local authorities talk about smart cities and general tracking, but there is no strong lobby in the Netherlands against facial recognition. That is a debate which is only just starting.’

In 2017, the database produced a match allowing suspects to be identified 93 times, Vice said.

The police also has access to a database containing photographs of refugees and undocumented migrants, and it contains ‘far more’ photos than the crime suspect image bank, police spokesman Ed Krasewski told news website Nu.nl.

He told Nu.nl that photos in the crime suspect database are kept for 20, 30 or 40 years, depending on the seriousness of the crime.

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