Senior FBI staff have clarified points on the agency's use of facial recognition following a critical news article in US media.In response to “Police Depts. Using ID Tool Honed in War”, published in the New York Times last week, Amy Hess, executive assistant director of the F.B.I.'s Science and Technology Branch, has raised several points related to the FBI's Next Generation Identification technology's use of facial recognition analysis.”While the Next Generation Identification technology could theoretically be used to search a wide range of photos, in practice it searches only against a pool of existing mug shots. The database is not a repository for Department of Motor Vehicle photographs or surveillance photos,” Hess wrote in a letter to the New York Times.Hess added that the FBI's Next Generation Identification system does not use facial recognition analysis to positively identify individuals. Rather, the technology applies an algorithm to compile an array of photographs with physical characteristics similar to those of the suspect in the submitted photo.”The FBI is committed to the protection of individual privacy rights and civil liberties. There are many important discussions that have taken place, and will continue to take place, about government surveillance and investigative authority,” said Hess.Following the article, the San Diego Police Department also later said its allegations of privacy violations were false.In the article, the newspaper alleges that the San Diego Police are using the technology without any clear guidelines.