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The National Security Agency collects millions of images as part of its facial recognition program, top-secret documents show.

The images are reportedly collected through exploited emails, text messages, social media, and videoconferences. The NSA believes its facial recognition program packs “tremendous untapped potential,” according to leaked slides [below].

“It is not clear,” the NY Times cautiously notes, “how many people around the world, and how many Americans, might have been caught up in the effort.”

[slideshare id=35360564&sc=no]

The newly reported leak reflects the NSA’s shift away from text analysis, and reminds us of the incredible (yet terrifying) potential of facial recognition software — for government agencies and private companies alike.

The NSA’s efforts appear somewhat similar to the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) program, an initiative which allegedly contains “over 100 million individual records” and will have “52 million face images by 2015,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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