Five Prongs of Big Brother FBI’s “Massive Biometric Database”

From Roger Oakland’s “Understand The Times” Weekly News In Review 1/8-15/12:

January 8 – 5 Things You Should Know About the FBI’s Massive New Biometric Database
Article: Technology For Global Monetary System
http://www.understandthetimes.org/newsinreview/newsinreview252.shtml

nir252d.gifThe 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 FBIrecognizes a need to collect as much biometric data as possible within information technology systems, and tomake this information accessible to all levels of law enforcement, includingInternational 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.

Here are 5 things you should probably know about NGI:

1. Face Recognition

The face recognition pilot program is supposed to expand to police departments across the country by 2014. When it’s fully operational, the FBI expects its database to contain as many records of faces as there are fingerprints in the current database — about 70 million, reports Nextgov.com.

“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. In fact,being in the same place as a police officer equipped with a mobile iris-scanning device is all it takes. Last fall, police departments across the country got access to the MORIS device, a contraption attached to an iPhone that lets police collect digital fingerprints, run face recognition and take iris scans. (Over the summer, the FBI also starting passing out mobile devices to local law enforcement that lets them collect fingerprints digitally at the scene, according to Government Computer News.)

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.

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.

An CJIS/FBI guide instructing officials how to pitch S-Comm to local law enforcement explains that, “Ultimately, LEA participation is inevitable because SC is simply the first of a number of biometric interoperatability systems being brought online by the FBI/CJIS ‘Next Generation Identification’ initiative.” The document lays out strategies for dealing with resistant police departments, including, “Deploy to as many places in the surrounding locale, creating a ‘ring of interoperatability’ around the resistant site.”

Read Full Article:

http://www.alternet.org/rights/153664/5_things_you_should_know_about_the_fbi%7Cs_massive_new_biometric_database/?page=entire

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