Election Security



Briefly discuss the new Google Facial Recognition capability in the context of enhancing public safety, and associated implications.




As some of you are aware, Google has databases filled with pictures of people from around the world that have been additionally scanned with their Facial Recognition software and tagged with names and other information. Google launched and is perfecting their “search by picture” capability, currently available to the public for FREE. Two ways to access it, you can get the app at Google Play, or go to Google search engine, click images, click the camera Icon, then either upload a picture, or enter a URL. It will process the photo, and give you the results (see the screen capture I attached to this topic).



This capability could be used for a wide variety of validation, background checking, see something say something, employment verification and more. Consider the following examples:

1. A man wants to take your daughter out on a date – take their picture, upload it to Google Facial Recognition, identify them, determine if he is a danger (threat prevention).

2. Two men are standing outside of a military base, look suspicious, perhaps engaged in foreign reconnaissance, take their picture, upload it to Google Facial Recognition, identify them, and determine if they show up as off duty soldiers, or (e.g. Russian foreigners).

3. See something, take the picture, say something (with confidence) – the observer of suspicious activity can take the extra step of validating that a criminal is standing outside of a bank, by upload the picture to Google Facial Recognition, and seeing their mugshot.



1. All States can ensure that their Department of Corrections database of CRIMINAL AND SEX OFFENDER mugshots is available and tagged with the names and crimes of offenders, and made available to Google Facial Recognition databases. This step is sure to augment the chance of identifying a criminal when a query is made regarding an identity in question.

2. Images on the FBI MOST WANTED LIST can be tagged and uploaded to Google (to increase the likeliness that if I take a picture today, and upload it, the individual will be identified, and then reported.

3. CITIZENSHIP AND WORK - DHS can take every U.S. citizen put their name in a database and tag them as citizen, eligible to work. Then when an employer encounters an individual during a job interview, they can take a picture, upload it to Google Facial Recognition, identify them, and determine if they are tagged as a citizen and eligible to work.

4. ELIGIBILITY TO VOTE - during voting in various elections, the voter registration process can include a validation step - picture of the voter correlated against their eligibility to vote, and be used to augment voting/election security.

5. Private security companies can create new markets to keep the public safe, such as monitoring for false identities (people with the wrong name associated with a picture – used in fake internet accounts created to perpetrate fraud), monitoring for naked pictures taken by the neighbors drone camera and uploaded to the internet, online image management etc.



1. Of course, privacy advocates will advocate against this, so that their paranoid anxieties will not be agitated, and/or they can continue to engage in their usual perverted activities uninterrupted.

2. The criminals associated with the 30 million crimes each year will hate the idea being exposed because it makes it much easier for them to get caught engaged in suspicious pre-crime activities. It makes it harder for criminals to get away with stalking and victimizing the public.

3. Illegal immigrants will not like the public being able to take their picture and identify them as a non-citizen, and/or as dangerous (if a criminal tag is made available).



1. Having tagged images online may have a crime DETERRENT impact on the public. If people know that their crimes will be available to all (online), then they may be less likely to engage in criminal activity. Also, if criminals know that people can identify them (with facial recognition), they are less likely to engage in any action that they could be captured on camera (and therefore will need to be very careful), and opportunity will decrease to only those that eliminate the risk (in theory).

2. Businesses that conduct pre-employment background checks for other businesses will not like the fact that the employer can do some of the background check themselves on the fly via uploading a picture.

3. The Russians and others will attempt to disrupt the capability by generating lots of false picture and name combinations (to interfere with anything that enhances our public safety). On the other hand FOREIGN ADVERSARIES WILL HAVE TO WORK VERY HARD TO PREVENT THEIR PICTURES FROM BEING IDENTIFIED ONLINE (crowd sourced actions continuously increase the chances of capturing their image eventually).



Google Facial Recognition is here now, and free for the public to use. I have only scratched the surface with this topic, and there is enormous potential for future enhancement of our overall U.S. security, via this capability. The capability also enhances the public’s ability to explore and validate their concerns, which may increase their likelihood of participating in see-something-say-something, and/or ENABLE THEM TO ENGAGE IN THEIR OWN PREVENTIVE ACTIONS, such as locking their doors if the man outside knocking on the door is identified as a criminal. As the picture database grows, so does the likelihood of a foreign adversary's picture becoming tagged and part of the collection that can be used for identification (UNSUBS become "Known Subjects"). Also, the more time foreign adversaries spend preventing their identification (do to Google facial recognition), the less time they have to spend undertaking their own adverse "active measures," spy, sabotage, cyber-warfare, and espionage activities. Like all things, there exists the possibility of abuse as well, but there is no putting this back in the box, it is out now, and will only grow in potential as Google and others find new ways to use this capability.




2 votes
9 up votes
7 down votes
Idea No. 460