SAY CHEESE FOR THE NSA! AGENCY COLLECTING MILLIONS OF IMAGES DAILY FOR FACIAL RECOGNITION!

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You may want to smile and hold a big “Hi NSA!” sign next time you upload a photo onto the Internet.

According to The New York Times, documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA collects millions of images per day from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations. About 55,000 of these are “facial recognition quality images.”

Also, the documents reportedly suggest the NSA considered getting access to iris scans through its email and phone surveillance programs. It declined comment when asked whether it is now doing so or not. But it does collect those of foreigners through other means.

“It’s not just the traditional communications we’re after: It’s taking a full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind in their regular activities on the net to compile biographic and biometric information” that can help “implement precision targeting”, a 2010 document stated.

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Meanwhile, the NSA does not have access to your driver’s license or passport photos, spokeswoman Vanee M. Vines told The New York Times. But she declined to say whether it has access to the State Department’s database of photos foreign visa applicants or whether it collects Americans’ social media photos through means other than communications intercepts.

As noted in the report, it is not clear how many people, including potential Americans, have been caught up in this. The New York Times says much of it would involve people overseas due to the agency’s mission. The NSA would be required to obtain court approval for Americans’ photos, Vines said. But photos shared between Americans and foreign targets could be excepted.

Of course, this isn’t the first report on the NSA’s interest in facial recognition. In February,Downtrend covered the agency’s efforts with GCHQ to capture still shots from Yahoo! users’ webcams.

What do you think? Is the NSA gathering online images merely to enhance its surveillance of legitimate targets or is there more to it? Will this change your online habits? 

SEE MORE AT DOWNTREND! 

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