The National Security Agency’s chief Admiral Mike Rogers has denied claims that the government is collecting images of people within the United States for use with facial recognition technology. This follows documents released by Snowden claiming millions of images were being nabbed daily.
The facial recognition technology was acknowledged by Rogers, who stated it is used to “deepen [NSA] knowledge” about foreign individuals under surveillance, according to Reuters. While he did not go into details about what that entails, he said that images were not being collected of US citizens.
The allegations that surfaced over the weekend stated that, among other things, images taken for drivers licenses in the United States were collected for facial recognition purposes. The document leaked by Snowden stated that about 55,000 images of sufficient enough quality for the technology are harvested daily out of millions of intercepted photographs.
The only times images are collected of US citizens, said Rogers, are in connection with the investigation of a foreign individual, and that the proper legal steps are taken before hand. “We do not,” he said, “do this on some unilateral basis against U.S. citizens … We can’t legally do that.”