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Oregon Implements Facial Recognition on Drivers Licenses
Oregon begins processing motorist photographs to create a statewide biometric database.

Facial recognition
Oregon officials are creating a biometric database of every motorist in the state that will ease a future transition to automated tracking and identification of residents. By July 2008, the state DMV plans to meet a deadline set by the legislature in completing the process of using facial recognition software to scan all existing driver photographs.

Oregon has been at the forefront of exploring surveillance technology. State law already allows both red light cameras and speed cameras to photograph the face of drivers. Oregon Department of Transportation experiments with per-mile taxation could employ enforcement cameras that photograph vehicles and drivers, allowing officials to use the new software to track not only the movements of passing vehicles but record the identity of their drivers and passengers.

For now, however, the program is limited to use by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The agency now requires anyone applying for a new driver's license to be scanned by a high-resolution digital cameras. The computer software is designed to throw up an anti-fraud red flag if a new applicant has a face similar to any other face in the database listed under a different name.

In this case, "DMV will not issue a permanent card to the customer and will provide the information for police to investigate as a potential case of fraud," according to the DMV website. DMV officials insist that the change is not related to the federal REAL ID Act designed to implement a national identity card, but statements from officials involved in the program suggest otherwise.

Last July, Oregon awarded Digimarc Corporation the contract to provide facial recognition software and equipment following passage of state Senate Bill 640 in 2005.

"With these important enhancements, Oregon becomes a model for other states that are fighting fraud and associated criminal activity and positions the state to comply with the requirements of the REAL ID Act," Digimarc CEO Bruce Davis said in a statement last year.

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