FBI interested in Ohio database including drivers's license photos

Posted at 6:41 PM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 19:32:32-04

The Federal Bureau of investigation has expressed interest in accessing an Ohio law-enforcement database that includes state driver’s license photos.

The Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway also includes arrest photos and mugshots that can be used in facial-recognition databases when looking for suspects. 

In a statement to, a spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office confirmed that there has been contact from the FBI about the database. 

The FBI has been inquiring with multiple agencies, including BCI, about what photograph databases are used by agencies. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received no formal request for access from the FBI at this time. Should one be received, the request would be vetted with our OHLEG Advisory Committee, which includes civil liberties advocates, and our OHLEG Steering Committee to provide feedback prior to a final decision.

In a letter sent to the AG’s Office by the ACLU of Ohio this week, the group urged Attorney General Mike DeWine to reject the FBI’s inquiries, citing concerns made public in a May 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office report. 

The report found concerns over the accuracy of facial recognition software saying the FBI should better ensure privacy and safety. 

Information Security expert David Kennedy, CEO and founder of TrustedSec, told that while false positive matches occur, the benefits of the database outweigh the privacy concerns. 

Kennedy described running a kidnapping suspect’s picture through a database of millions of pictures with the use of facial recognition software.  

“It’s definitely not 100 percent science in any way, shape or form,” Kennedy said. “But cutting days of research down to a few seconds can really save somebody’s life or somebody that may be in a dangerous situation.”

The GAO report states that 16 states currently have arrangements with the FBI to access drivers license photos, and there have been negotiations in 18 other states. 

In July, the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles said it would not negotiate with the FBI to share driver’s license photos.