|August 10, 2010|
Governor Paterson Announces Results of New Facial Recognition Technology by DMV
Governor David A. Paterson today announced the initial results of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) use of facial recognition technology to identify fraud cases. Use of the innovative software began in February, 2010, and in the six months since its implementation has been instrumental in identifying more than 1,000 cases of possible fraud.
“As we enter the new economy based on knowledge, technology and innovation, these tools provide us with enhanced abilities to protect and serve all New Yorkers. Through facial recognition technology we have bolstered national security, neighborhood security, and highway safety,” Governor Paterson said. “I am tremendously proud of the success we have seen in the past six months and I look forward to seeing more progress in the months and years ahead.”
Facial recognition software is used by the DMV to help identify persons across the State who try to obtain more than one driver license or non-driver identification document. The system is designed to advance DMV’s important goals of “one driver, one license” and improving highway safety. Those seeking a second identity document may be trying to do so for a number of reasons including evading license suspensions, stealing an identity, committing financial fraud or presenting a false identity to law enforcement or transportation security officials.
DMV Commissioner David Swarts said: “Although we have essentially just begun to utilize this innovative technology, we are seeing amazing results. I applaud Governor Paterson for his ongoing efforts to ensure that the DMV has the most updated and advanced tools to better serve New Yorkers. Facial recognition software is already proving to be a strong tool to help our staff uncover identity fraud as well as keep our highways safer.”
Facial recognition software essentially converts DMV’s digital, facial photographs into mathematical algorithms. The software presents trained staff with photo images that have been identified as having similar algorithms. This review includes new photos taken each day at the DMV, as well as about 15 million photos already in DMV’s database. Identity documents associated with a new photo are not produced until any photo identified as a potential match is reviewed by trained staff. The DMV strives to issue each applicant only one identity document and seeking a second identity document is a crime since it requires the submission of a false instrument.
As a result of this program, over 100 felony arrests have been made to date. Arrests have included an Egyptian citizen holding four New York licenses under separate names, one of which was on the Federal “no-fly” list, and a former hit man who sought to establish a second identity after release from prison. In April, DMV’s facial recognition program identified an individual wanted for a 1990’s-era bank robbery in Nassau County. As a result, the individual was arrested by the Nassau County Police Department. Others charged have had license suspensions or a large number of tickets and accidents under multiple identities.
The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), a research entity affiliated with the State University of New York, will conduct research on the impact the facial recognition program may have on highway safety. Thus far, of the more than 1000 cases of multiple identities uncovered by the facial recognition program, approximately 67 percent of the individuals holding multiple identities have one or more driving suspensions or revocations in place that appear to have been evaded by their having obtained a second license.
The following statements were provided in support of utilizing facial recognition technology:
Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said: “This is a great example of how government can use technology to be more efficient and effective in maintaining the safety of all New Yorkers. Given the great success of this program so soon after implementation, facial recognition software may well become one of the strongest weapons we have in preventing identity theft and other fraud-based crimes. I applaud the Governor and DMV for their ongoing efforts, as well as Senate Transportation Chair Martin Malavé Dilan for partnering with our colleagues in government to enact sensible safety measures.”
Senator Martin Malavé Dilan said: “Facial recognition software offers the unique opportunity to cut the costs associated with fraud and the lasting damage it can have on New York families. In the little time this technology has been in use, already we are seeing great results. I applaud Governor Paterson for recognizing the importance of this technology and seeing to its implementation.”
Assemblyman David Gantt said: “Facial recognition technology has proven effective in aiding Government and law enforcement in their effort to combat fraud and increase highway safety. The arrests that have been made as a result of this program provide evidence we're moving in the right direction.”
Acting State Police Superintendent John Melville said: “Implementing this technology enhances the security for New Yorkers and all Americans. I commend Governor Paterson for his efforts on this initiative and for ensuring that this valuable law-enforcement tool is available to help us in our efforts to serve and protect all New Yorkers.”
Derek Champagne, President of New York State District Attorney Association, said: “This new technology shows how government can work smarter and more efficiently. It will help us to prevent crimes such as identity theft, driving without a license and it will help us solve crimes that are currently being perpetrated on innocent victims. This new technology also provides an important new weapon in combating fraudulent claims for government benefits by making prosecutions for such crimes against revenue easier. This is particularly important at a time when the State’s finances are a particularly precarious state.”
Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. said: “The facial recognition software employed the DMV is not only a tool for safer roadways, but also the safety of our communities. This technology prevents those with a suspended or revoked driving privilege from obtaining a valid license under a new name, but can also prevent fraud, terrorism and criminals who are seeking to avoid justice by assuming a new identity.”