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The Federal Bureau of Investigation announces its intention to create a stronger, better, faster database using biometric data

Biometrics is already something of a buzz word, with more and more of its applications in places like train stations, airports and even Walt Disney World.  Governmental agencies borrowed the word as of late for more interesting projects: identifying people based on intrinsic physical or behavioral traits.

The FBI in particular is no exception, the agency plans to award a 10-year contract with a one billion dollar tab to expand the quantity and quality of its biometric data.

Biometric information can include many things such as fingerprints, palm prints, iris and corneal scans, facial structure, noticeable markings, stride and even innocuous personal behavior like typing rhythm and mouse gestures. The project, dubbed Next Generation Identification (NGI), is set to gather all types of bio-data and store in one location for identification and forensics purposes.

The database would be accessible by many law enforcement and government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, which already uses iris scans at airports to allow people who have passed background checks to move through airport security more quickly; and the Defense Department, which has been collecting data on Iraqi and Afghan detainees for the past two years.

The database could be used to identify known or suspected criminals or terrorists by matching facial structure, iris scans or the gait of walk via cameras in places of interest like bus stations or airports. The eventual goal will be to identify threats in real-time without human intervention.

Detractors to the FBI's plans claim that such a database has many pitfalls. Gathered data, if incorrect or stolen, could prove a serious problem for ordinary citizens that become victims of the system's imperfections.

The new database differs from the TALON database forced out of operation last September.  Whereas TALON stored data on individuals as reported by field officers, NGI's data will largely stem from autonomous data acquisition sources -- like cameras and sensors.  However, data from NGI will be used in conjunction with entries in the Bureau's Guardian Threat Tracking System; a database that took over TALON's entries after its demise.

"It's going to be an essential component of tracking. It's enabling the Always On Surveillance Society," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the Technology and Liberty Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in a Washington Post article last week.

While the idea does ring of an Orwellian society, agencies like the Department of Homeland Security would benefit from such an overt system, should it work as planned. The FBI is working with the West Virginia University Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR) to make live scanning a reality. CITeR is working on scanning processes that would be able to identify a person by iris scan at up to 15 feet and face-shape by 200 yards. The Center will begin to work with the FBI on biometric research in the near future.

Voicing in on access and privacy concerns, Thomas E. Bush III, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division stated "we have very stringent laws that control who can go in there and to secure the data." Presently over 900,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers have access to the FBI's fingerprint database. The number could increase as more agencies and officials gain access to the growing biometrics database.

More than just privacy advocates have shown disdain for the database.  A recent study in Germany using facial recognition technology garnered a 60 percent matches success rate during optimal lighting conditions. The accuracy plummeted as low as 10 percent in low-light situations. The German law-enforcement agency tolerated a false positive rate of 0.1 percent, or 23 people of the roughly 23,000 that passed through the train station where the study was done.

Homeland security and false identification of criminals aside, the system could have other merits if used by other federal and state institutions like hospitals and missing persons units. Various biometric data could be used to identify victims of crimes, along with possible evidence towards their culprits, or to find missing or runaway children who might happen to pass through an area with an active scanning system.


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RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By ThePooBurner on 12/27/2007 12:54:09 AM , Rating: 1
It's the left wing that wants to give way rights for safetly, not the right. Right wingers want less government, lefts want more.

In reply to FITComero: If the database is compromised, or there is a mole who works in the system, the bad guys could get their information to appear as normal, and yours to be the terorist profile. Then you would be caught in the airport and you would be going to jail all because "Our data shows you attacked and murdered 3 people and are tied to alqida" and you would not be able to ever prove otherwise "because our data goes back years."

I wouldn't go for this system at all and would probably try to figure out a way to screw with the initial sample if they forced it on me, so as to remain anonymous.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By MrBungle on 12/27/2007 1:07:56 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Right wingers want less government, lefts want more.


Not anymore! Now they both want more government.

Last time I checked, "right-wing" also implied fiscal conservatism, non-interventionism, equal opportunity, the principle of "culture dictates law," upholding constitutional rights, controlling immigration...

How many of those attributes can you find in so-called "right-wingers" today?


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By Ringold on 12/27/2007 1:27:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Last time I checked, "right-wing" also implied fiscal conservatism, non-interventionism, equal opportunity, the principle of "culture dictates law," upholding constitutional rights, controlling immigration...


Lol, you cast the net so wide you just snagged half the liberals in the country!

Fiscal conservatism -- check.

Non-intervention, aka isolation -- not since Hoover has it been predominately associated with isolationism. It's even a more recent phenomenon for the left. Remember, left-wing loverboy Kennedy campaigned on the idea Eisenhower hadn't been doing enough!

Equal opportunity -- hold your horses! Perhaps you didn't intend it, but "equal opportunity" sounds a lot like forced racial profiling with respects to jobs and college education. No, thanks.

"Culture dictates law" -- What? There's a reason Guliani keeps saying he would appoint "strict constructionist judges"; that's because the constitution dicates law, not culture. On a related note, while the church going right-wing would get its feathers ruffled, the rest of us also on the right would say the government has no business dealing with issues of culture at all, much less allowing culture to dictate law. The constitution was damn near perfect with the Bill of Rights and is not to be tinkered with -- in the small-gov conservative view anyway.

Upholding constitutional rights -- Check. Though just like Democrats (Roosevelt), Republicans (Lincoln) can look the other way temporarily when needed, though as I posted elsewhere this particular idea may be too much.

Controlling immigration -- Check. Note Republican outrage over Bush's immigration proposal because it was too lax, "amnesty", and the hordes of Republican voters that swamped their representatives offices. Note also the Democrat's anger that it was too tough on families (admission was partly based on skills rather than family ties); it was much too strong for them.

quote:
How many of those attributes can you find in so-called "right-wingers" today?


Perhaps a better question would be, since you half-described a Democrat, is this: Is Bush really a classical Republican deep down at all, or a Democrat with a penchant for invading small countries? :P


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By straycat74 on 12/27/2007 9:28:39 AM , Rating: 2
I've been saying that if the lefty's would just shut their mouths, and open their eyes and ears, they would realize that they have had the Presidency the past 20 years. Welfare in general is up (socialism) and people no longer believe they are responsible for their own choices in life, like being bailed out of a bad mortgage that was CHOSEN. No one wants to give when they make $100,000 on a property, but when they lose , they think they were taken advantage of. America's strength is the people, (if you want to know who, look at how many actually end up paying taxes) not government. "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!"


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By BansheeX on 12/27/2007 11:10:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Non-intervention, aka isolation


I think there is a difference that you are missing here between these two, and once you figure it out, you'll be an ardent Ron Paul supporter.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By Ringold on 12/27/2007 2:43:54 PM , Rating: 2
There's a difference, but it doesn't matter. Events that occur over seas have a clear impact on the United States.

Clear example -- Russian Civil War. Ron Paul early 20th century isolationism had us pull out the few troops we had committed to help fighting the Bolsheviks. Your ideology and their thoughts then are identical; that's an internal issue, it doesn't have anything to do with us, so why get involved? Home came the troops.

However, what if we'd had the foresight that those Bolsheviks were some bad-ass individuals, which many people recognized, and sacrificed, say, 100,000 men to stopping them?

Do I have to hold your hand and remind you of the number of people killed under various communist regimes, assasinations and suppression that is ongoing, and the total cost of the Cold War not just in dollars but in lives through it's various proxy wars? Not to even mention the difference in the quality of life of virtually the entire planet if South America, Africa and Asia hadn't had an example in the Soviet Union to follow in an attempt at command-economies. Half of the last century was utterly wasted because communists and socialists trying to take economic pointers from those people, and now 800m or so still suffer chronic hunger.

Ron Paul and isolationists are just too weak to put in an upfront investment on something that may not visibly show rewards. If we'd intervened in the Russian Civil War, it'd probably go down in history as a huge waste of life since we'd be unaware of the alternate history. Isolation is, therefore, the cowards way out of conducting foreign policy.

Now, that doesn't mean I quite like the idea of hyper-active involvement everywhere, but there's a middle ground.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By BansheeX on 12/27/2007 8:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There's a difference, but it doesn't matter. Events that occur over seas have a clear impact on the United States.


The future is completely unknown and unpredictable no matter what action you take. You can look at the past and it's a lot easier to predict or play out different scenarios when you already have one that's played out for the worse. That's why it's wrong to blame non-interventionism for eventual threats or other country's inadequate defenses.

That said, intervention has probably led to more bad than good. For example, we can be fairly certain now that Hitler would have never existed if we hadn't intervened in WWI. Iran probably wouldn't be so extremist if the CIA hadn't forced our hand in their affairs. And in your defense, for all we know, Putin staying in power will lead to another Russian civil war. Only in the future will we know if we should have taken him out now. It's really an impossible strategy to follow because it relies on so much assumption and paranoia. If my neighbor seems angry with me, should I kill him to prevent the possibility of him going postal on my family the next day? Probably not, although if it happens everyone will have the hindsight to say I should have.

quote:
However, what if we'd had the foresight that those Bolsheviks were some bad-ass individuals, which many people recognized, and sacrificed, say, 100,000 men to stopping them?


According to wikipedia:

"During the Allied Intervention, the military presence of foreign troops was effectively used for patriotic propaganda by the Bolsheviks in their struggle to influence the population and win the Civil War."

So really, how do you know that non-intervention and all-out war wouldn't have both yielded a white army victory? We don't. All we know is the result of slight intervention, and you are thus selfishly assuming that all-out war would have yielded a certain, more desirable result. In reality nobody has a clue what that other conflicts that decision may or not have created.

quote:
Do I have to hold your hand and remind you of the number of people killed under various communist regimes, assasinations and suppression that is ongoing, and the total cost of the Cold War not just in dollars but in lives through it's various proxy wars?


You're resorting to fear and selective hindsight to justify your position. Yes, bad things have happened and will happen around the world regardless of what we do. You should realize though that no one knows the future in order to assume that intervention is more often than not going to result in a lesser overall deathtoll or a safer future for us and our families here at home. And no American should feel cowardly for not wanting to sacrifice themselves or their liberty for any other reason than an immediate and reducable threat to that life or liberty. Hitler and Osama were justifiable intervention (despite our own idiotic failure to prevent the latter), but Iraq, Korea, Chechnya, Kosovo, Vietnam, all make no sense, especially when there are so many methods of prevention we still fail to exercise or improve upon here (more secure borders, no bases in holy land, smarter defense spending etc). We have a tendency to let other countries' extremists use our occupation and manipulation of their resources as a recruiting device. Pretty soon we won't have a choice but to be non-interventionist because our economy is a debt-based mirage that is about to cascade in on itself, all in the name of this interventionist strategy.

quote:
Ron Paul and isolationists are just too weak to put in an upfront investment on something that may not visibly show rewards.


The only cowards are the ones who manipulate the media and send other Americans over to die under irrational pretenses. Ron Paul is a hero in my book. Non-interventionist, yes. Isolationist, no. He's right on the money with everything else you've said. Maybe you should give his foreign policy a the benefit of the doubt.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By senbassador on 12/28/2007 2:05:16 AM , Rating: 2
"Clear example -- Russian Civil War. Ron Paul early 20th century isolationism had us pull out the few troops we had committed to help fighting the Bolsheviks. Your ideology and their thoughts then are identical; that's an internal issue, it doesn't have anything to do with us, so why get involved? Home came the troops.

However, what if we'd had the foresight that those Bolsheviks were some bad-ass individuals, which many people recognized, and sacrificed, say, 100,000 men to stopping them?"

I hate to nitpick, but what makes you so confident we would have gone with fighting against the Bolsheviks and not pick their side. Remember, I kinda of doubted the Russian czars were liked all that much either. Had we intervened, I am thinking slightly better than 50/50 chance it would have been to stop the Bolsheviks rather than supporting them.

However, the remaining part of your post makes a little too much sense for me. OVERALL, US intervention did far more good than harm (though its still important to acknowledge the harm). Its a good thing people with Ron Paul's philosophy won't win the White House anytime soon.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By ThePooBurner on 12/27/2007 3:03:32 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
How many of those attributes can you find in so-called "right-wingers" today?

To use the form of the poster that replied to you first:

fiscal conservatism : Myself as well as all of my right wing friends. If i could be the one to overhaul, without interference - complete control, the finantial workings of the country, most probably wouldn't recognize what was left. I'm one of the most financially conservative people i know. It's all a matter of correct priorities.
non-interventionism : Myself as well as all of my right wing friends. Our bases of operation should be on our soil, not our enemies. We are to spread out as it is, even with our tech superiority. Anyone who has played StarCraft/any other generic RTS would see it.
equal opportunity : Depends on how it's defined. The opinion of my group is job should go to best qualified. If that means all the while people are most qualified for the job at a company, than i expect white people to be in it. If black people are the most qualified, than i expect to see black people, etc.. I wouldn't even have the question of race on any paper work. If required to have it it should only exist on post hire questionires just to gather stats on who is working for the company. If they are only applying for a job, i don't care what they are. Same for tests. I know someone who took a standardized test twice. Filled out both tests at the same time identically except for name and race. One was white, the other black. The black score came back 15% lower than the white. The boxes (and the effects they have) shouldn't exist.
culture dictates law : F-THAT. The last thing i want dictating law is a bunch of moronic jack-asses. The Public as a whole is one of the stupidest bodies on earth. This is evident by the fact that they still sell FullScreen movies, because people still buy them instead of widescreen. People who make such decisions are not qualified to dictate law because they obviously don't understand/comprehend things. Culture would give away all of our rights to "feel safe" because they don't understand that it is our rights that make us safe. The Founding Fathers knew this. Especially when it comes to the 2nd ammendment.
upholding constitutional rights : You're.. you're joking right? Someone please tell me this is a joke.
controlling immigration : Myself as well as all of my right wing friends. There is a legal process to gain citizenship, and it should be used. Those who don't need to take the steps. Right now this process is long and very inefficient. It needs to be fixed. However, no one gets a free ride. Everyone needs to go through the process no matter what. If they are hear illegally currently, but are working hard to be a good, responsible citizen, they don't need to be deported before applying. If they are bottom feeder mooching off the system (not possible should i be allowed to reform) then deport them. Some might say this is a free ride, but i say someone working to better our economy and willing to work to support themselves is someone we want to have as a citizen of our country. Note: they still need to go through the process, we just won't kick them out first.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By ethies on 12/27/2007 9:56:56 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
We are to spread out as it is, even with our tech superiority. Anyone who has played StarCraft/any other generic RTS would see it.


Myself as well as all of my right wing friends. Anyone who knows anything about real world military operations knows it is exactly like StarCraft or any other generic RTS.


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