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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 3:03:32 AM , Rating: 2
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
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.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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