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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 tigz1218 on 12/27/2007 1:54:22 AM , Rating: 2
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-Benjamin Franklin

Thats all I have to say.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By Gibby82 on 12/27/2007 2:58:46 AM , Rating: 2
I'm tired of people using this. This quote is like the stupid 9/11 stickers and magnets you see on cars.

I swear half the country forgot what the flag looked like before 9/11, but after they had to have a sticker on every car.

And now it's this quote. One person said it, and now EVERYONE has to say it.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By ThePooBurner on 12/27/2007 3:08:28 AM , Rating: 2
Good. That means more people are being made aware. Awareness of good things is a good thing.

Oh, and I had flags all over the place before 9/11. Your response makes it sounds as though you didn't, and don't currently. That is a shame.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By Christopher1 on 12/27/2007 9:30:18 AM , Rating: 2
I agree totally. The problem with the person who has a problem with this is that he doesn't realize that is what the majority of people are doing: giving up personal liberty for the APPEARANCE of safety.

Frankly, I am one of those people who say "You know, terrorist attacks are going to happen, regardless of whether we give up all our rights or not. Therefore, we should not give up ONE right since it is not going to keep terrorist attacks from happening, and just do what we KNOW keeps terrorists on their toes: making agreements with other countries to kick them out of their countries and bumping off/arresting their leaders when we find them!"


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By FITCamaro on 12/27/2007 10:09:21 AM , Rating: 2
So one has to fly the flag all over the place to prove they are patriotic?

Now I don't own a home, but I don't have the flag anywhere on display. I don't need to to prove that I love this country. Yes if I owned a home, I would fly it outside. But thats it. I don't need a bumper sticker or some crap. To me those who fly it all over the place are just desperate for attention.

To me his point was valid. Before 9/11 people were like they are now. They take what they have in this country for granted. They think freedom doesn't cost anything. After 9/11 everyone and their mother went and bought a flag or other "I love America" things. Now many of those people are back to the way they were before. Hating the government for trying to keep them safe.

And don't quote Benjamin Franklin to justify your point. For one his quote doesn't apply to the modern world. There are many things in the modern world that the founding fathers couldn't have even begun to comprehend. In their day, the idea of someone blowing themselves up in a crowd of innocents wasn't even imaginable. But it's reality now.

You people can call me whatever you want. I don't care. You say that trying to track and ID terrorists or other criminals is a bad thing because what if its used against an innocent. I say the pros outweigh the cons. You say that everyone's opinion matters. Well so does mine then.

And some of you are right. Countries come and go. And I see another Civil War in America coming. On one side you'll have bleeding heart liberals who think America is this big evil empire bent of world domination and control of its citizens lives (which will be ironic since they favor more domestic programs that entrench more actively in the lives of America's citizens). And on the other side you'll have people who care about America first, then the rest of the world. People who recognize that the world isn't the way it was in the past. That threats have to be met with force because talking in a room only serves to waste time while someone sneaks up behind you to put a knife in your back.


RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By camped69 on 1/1/2008 5:25:33 AM , Rating: 2
FYI, our government knows exactly where 99% of terror cells are. It is not only the liberals who think the government has overstepped it's bounds. The founding fathers words are just as much if not more relevant today than they were in the past. So what do you suggest, completely disregard what this country was founded upon so that some terrorists don't bomb us? More people die from eating fast food per year than some terrorists could ever kill. I say to the supposed terrorists and anyone else who is hellbent on taking my rights as an American away, bring it. I've got plenty of ammo. Didn't baby bush say that they hate us for our freedom? So why in the hell are we having it taken away?



RE: Monitor yourselves FBI
By tigz1218 on 12/27/2007 11:30:10 AM , Rating: 2
just so i know i have been patriotic my whole life. i have many family and friends in the armed forces so what you say to me insults me. However the more I see what this country is becoming the more I am frightened of our personal liberities our founding fathers fought for. I personally do not fear a terrorist, if he wants to come over here some how and blow himself and try to take me out then bring it, but Im not about to live my entire life in fear because i fear a terrorist attack or death.

Oh and that one person who said this quote, was one of our founding fathers, so you should be proud the more you hear it because that means at least they know SOMETHING of our country's history, unlike probably half the people now a days.


"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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