According to the New York Times, the NSA isn’t just interested in reading your email and text messages—it also wants to know exactly what you look like. The NYT reports that the agency has been using new facial recognition technology to tap into millions of images in emails, video conferences, and social media to build a massive database of faces.
And the NSA is not the first government agency to do this. According to the report, state and local law enforcement agencies are already collecting images of faces from driver’s license databases, social media, and other sources. But the NSA has a particular edge because it can match all of these images to the vast reserves of private communications it has already collected.
Thanks to the NSA’s large swaths of data—paired with its new facial recognition software—this is now possible, according to the NYT.
One N.S.A. PowerPoint presentation from 2011, for example, displays several photographs of an unidentified man — sometimes bearded, other times clean-shaven — in different settings, along with more than two dozen data points about him. These include whether he was on the Transportation Security Administration no-fly list, his passport and visa status, known associates or suspected terrorist ties, and comments made about him by informants to American intelligence agencies.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that the NSA has access to all of your private communications, they can now put a face to your name. And don’t forget: there’s likely a lot more that we have yet to learn.