CLEVELAND -- If you've ever stepped in front of the camera for a driver's license photo, you may be surprised by how many people can access your picture.
No state is as lenient as Ohio at providing access to the their facial recognition system. A recent review by Gannett Ohio -- parent company of WKYC-TV -- uncovered that 26,500 people have access to the system. By comparison, Pennsylvania allows 547 people access.
"We're unprecedented here in Ohio," says Melissa Bilancini of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. "We're the only state that has this type of a system. We are the state, as far as I know, that allows the most number of people with access to the system."
Like fingerprints detect lines on your hand, this process detects the lines on your face, then compares them against every Ohio driver's license photo and inmate photo. Police from Cleveland to Cincinnati use it when they have a picture of a suspect -- and need to figure out who they are.
"You can see very different appearances on the surface of a picture -- from mustache to beards to glasses and moles -- but this biometric technology have allowed us to match pictures with suspects, which helps police work immeasurably," said Tom Stickrath, superintendent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
"One of my big concerns is, down the road, this will be used to take video at a protest, then run that through the system and identify everyone who's been there," Bilancini says.
"The concern is people may use the system for personal reasons," says Chrissie Thompson, a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer -- a partner of WKYC-TV who first broke this story. "Technically you could take a picture of someone you meet at a bar, upload that picture into the system and find out who that person is. That would be illegal, and, if they find out you did that, they would prosecute you."
To find out how many people have access to your facial recognition data at Ohio law enforcement agencies, click HERE.