COLUMBUS -- The state of Ohio has started to use Ohio driver's license pictures to help identify criminals.

Many other states already do this, but Attorney General Mike DeWine launched the program without announcing it to the public.

And that is triggering an outcry from privacy and civil liberty advocates concerned about use of technology to possibly keep watch on ordinary citizens in the wake of revelations about national security agencies tracking e-mails and calls.

DeWine calls the program legal, necessary and safe.

But the American Civil Liberties Union is calling for it to be suspended until protections and protocols can be developed.

"You're going to save lives. You're going to solve crimes," DeWine said.

He takes responsibility for waiting so long to announce the program's usage.

A panel of judges, defense lawyers and law enforcement officials is being asked to develop rules and regulations over the next 60 days and report back to DeWine.

DeWine said the program's been used almost 2,700 times and has helped several investigations.

The FBI is using facial recognition technology but only compares pictures with existing mug shots.

A bank robber whose picture is taken during the crime by a surveillance camera would have the image compared with a database of existing mugshots.

Critics charge that DeWine's launch of the program caused confusion and made it vulnerable to hackers.