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The FBI’s New Biometric Data Base: Way Beyond Your Fingerprints

Written by Gary North on January 13, 2012

This is not your father’s data base!

The FBI claims that their fingerprint database (IAFIS) is the “largest biometric database in the world,” containing records for over a hundred million people. But that’s nothing compared to the agency’s plans for Next Generation Identification (NGI), a massive, billion-dollar upgrade that will hold iris scans, photos searchable with face recognition technology, palm prints, and measures of gait and voice recordings alongside records of fingerprints, scars, and tattoos.

Ambitions for the final product are candidly spelled out in an agency report: “The FBI recognizes a need to collect as much biometric data as possible within information technology systems, and to make this information accessible to all levels of law enforcement, including International agencies.” (A stack of documents related to NGI was obtained by the Center for Constitutional Rights and others after a FOIA lawsuit.) 

It’ll be “Bigger — Better — Faster,” the FBI brags on their Web site. Unsurprisingly, civil libertarians have concerns about the privacy ramifications of a bigger, better, faster way to track Americans using their body parts.

This is a huge decrease in personal privacy. We will never get back what we have lost. The new system will include the following.

1. Face Recognition

The problem with that, civil libertarians point out, is that anyone’s picture can end up in the database, regardless of whether or not they’ve committed a crime. Mug shots get snapped when people are arrested, and unlike a fingerprint — which requires either arrest or consent to a background check — a face could potentially be captured and fed into a database from anywhere.”Anybody walking around could potentially be entered,” Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, tells AlterNet. “Just the fact that those images can be taken surreptitiously raises concerns. If someone takes your fingerprints, you know. But in the face recognition context, it’s possible for law enforcement to collect that data without knowledge.” The millions of private and public security cameras all over the country would certainly provide a fruitful source for images, Lynch points out.

2. Iris Scans

Iris-scanning technology is the centerpiece of the second-to-last stage in the roll-out of NGI (scheduled for sometime before 2014). Iris scans offer up several advantages to law enforcement, both in terms of identifying people and fattening up databases. . . .

3. Rap-Back System

A lot of the action in the FBI’s fingerprint database is in background checks for job applicants applying to industries that vet for criminal history, like taking care of the elderly or children, hospital work, and strangely, being a horse jockey in Michigan. As Cari Athens, writing for the Michigan Telecommunications and Law Review points out, if a job applicant checks out, the FBI either destroys the prints or returns them to the employer. But that’s no fun if the goal is to collect vast amounts of biometric data!

Through the “Rap-Back” system, the FBI will offer employers another option: the agency is willing to keep the fingerprints in order to alert the employer if their new hire has run-ins with the law at any point in the future. . . .

4. Data Sharing Between Agencies

The roll-out of NGI advances another goal: breaking down barriers between databases operated by different agencies. One of the directives of the billion-dollar project is to grease information swapping between the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense. The DOJ and DHS have worked toward “interoperatibility” between their databases for years. In 2009, the Department of Defense and DOJ also signed on to an agreement to share biometric information. . . .

A DHS powerpoint about Secure Communities promises that “Under NGI, law enforcement agencies will have the option to search multiple repositories.” FBI reports detail how NGI will promote smoother swapping of more and more detailed biometric information: “NGI will increase information processing and sharing needs of the more than 18,000 local, state, federal, and international agencies who are our customers.” It’s not clear which international agencies will be able to tap into NGI. . . .

5. NGI and Secure Communities (S-Comm)

One recent test run in interagency data-sharing has not gone particularly well: Secure Communities, a DHS program that lets local law enforcement officials run the fingerprints of people booked in jails against the IDENT database to check their immigration status and tip off ICE to undocumented immigrants.

Like many policies targeting America’s immigrant population, Secure Communities (S-Comm) — pitched as protection against violent criminals — devolved into dragnets and mass deportations, with people getting dragged in for minor offenses like missing business permits and even for reporting crimes. In one incident a woman called the police about a domestic violence incident, only to be ensnared in deportation proceedings herself. As Marie Diamond points out in Think Progress, DHS’s immigration databases have so many errors that the program “routinely flags citizens as undocumented immigrants.” . . .

What could possibly go wrong? 

Advancements in the collection of biometric data are double-edged: there’s the threat of a massive government surveillance infrastructure working too well — e.g., surveillance state — and there are concerns about its weaknesses, especially in keeping data secure.

There’s more. Read the whole article.

Continue Reading on www.alternet.org

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14 thoughts on “The FBI’s New Biometric Data Base: Way Beyond Your Fingerprints

  1. Satan's (small s) plan is in full swing, FEMA Camps, NDAA, TSA, now Congress is considering HR 3166 and S. 1698 also known as the Enemy Expatriation Act, sponsored by Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Charles Dent (R-PA). This bill would give the US government the power to strip Americans of their citizenship without being convicted of being 'hostile' against the United States. In other words, you can be stripped of your nationality for 'engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States.' Legally, the term 'hostilities' means any conflict subject to the laws of war but considering the fact that the War on Terror is a little ambiguous and encompassing, any action could be labeled as supporting terrorism

  2. Don't forget, if you: Own a gun -or- store food for emergencies – or- can vegetables from your garden – or- disagree with the Attorney General giving guns to drug smugglers -or- go to a Christian church – or – have just returned home from Serving Your Country in the Military – or – or – or – you might be a terrorist. OUR government has gone beyond stupid. In some cases, stupid CAN be fixed, and we must.

  3. Biggest Threat to US Comes From Within Our Own Government!
    A Tyrannical Dictatorship! Dictatorships with the military might to yield on US soil with the reversed Posse Comitatus Act! And now Habeas Corpus with the NDAA passed into law the powers that be can have their way by hook or crook, as well as use the mere suggestion that anyone can be deemed “enemy combatant” because of a person’s belief and/or opinion that can be considered rebellious if it’s not the same as the Tyrannical Dictatorship’s view.
    This Violation should Never Happen Again! Impeachable! http://www.exposeobama.com/2012/01/04/video-new-h
    Now, you can help make the corrections to Our Republic, Help Save Our Constitution!

  4. When the people fear the government, that’s Tyranny!
    When the government fears the people, that’s Liberty!
    All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing!
    Now Is the Time for All Good Men and Women to come to the aid of Our Country!
    Make the Difference and Take a Stand with other Good Men and Women.
    Info @ http://www.wakeupamerica.com/constitutionalbelievers
    Take Care and GOD BLESS The Whole World!
    Mr. Harris

  5. Lt.General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin on Marxism in America. http://www.morningstartv.com/oak-initiative/marxi

  6. Muslim demographic video …
    Muslims are taking over the planet &
    here is the proof…… Raymond http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU

  7. Paul Divine says:

    This thing, like the fow of the water in a large river cannot be sotpped. Read the Bible, the prophesies about the one-world -government that would be established in the end times. All of our thoughts and opinions will not stop, or even slow this process down. Every thing in God`s creation had a beginning, all things that are to come in the future muist have a beginning, We are now witnessing the beginning of the formation of the one-world government that was prophesied thousands of years ago.

    This process cannot be stoped or changed in any way. This system of a one-world governmebt will not be completed overnight. It will take some time for development. and emplementation, but it will happen. The first steps in this development must be for each nation to have computer programs that can be used to identify and track the actions, movements and daily activities each individual. The technology is already available to start this identification system. The next step is to begin emplementation. It will happen. One step at a time.

  8. welcome to Brave New World, orwellian 1984, Big Sis is amiss and is watching you, ready to put you into reeducation camps.

  9. Um, does fecal matter contain DNA? If so, I suggest everyone support the government's efforts in our behalf by sending them a contribution forthwith.

  10. Oops, forgot to subscribe…

  11. There's a show on Thursday nights called "Person of Interest". Watch it if you can and remember this article. Where do you think the producers got the idea for that show, couldn't be that it's happening now, could it???

  12. and Holder is suing the states for their wanting illegals to identify themselves and also at the voting booths to make sure they are legal…excuse me!!!

  13. Please call each campaign today and demand that these four candidates stop stonewalling gun owners on important Second Amendment issues.

    Make your calls right now:

    Newt Gingrich: 678-973-2306
    Mitt Romney: 803-575-0698
    Rick Santorum: 603-518-5199
    Rick Perry: 855-887-5627