July 19, 2011
Back in 2008 some were raising concerns about the FBI’s Next Gen ID Database
The FBI has already begun gathering iris scans, and says it will need to expand its photograph database to ramp up inputs for the NGI system growth that could be the basis for our facial recognition,´ says an agency official. (Image Courtesy of Lockheed Martin)
The Electronic Freedom Foundation updates us on the progress of NGI, linking to Freedom of Information Act acquired documents that show the how biometric data is being gathered and consolidated. The slides that you see are from NGI presentations I have collected. As you can see from slide 24 (below) the NGI program is progressing exactly as promised. (the powerpoint that these slides are from was produced in 2009 if my memory serves)
The Electronic Freedom Foundation lists a few of the major problems with the collection, sharing and consolidation of biometric information but, to me, number three says it all-
The third reason for concern is at the heart of much of our work at EFF. Once the collection of biometrics becomes standardized, it becomes much easier to locate and track someone across all aspects of their life. As we said in 2003, “EFF believes that perfect tracking is inimical to a free society. A society in which everyone’s actions are tracked is not, in principle, free. It may be a livable society, but would not be our society.”
It is worth highlighting the fact that this system is NOT limited to identification data of criminals.
July 8th, 2011
This week, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and several other organizations released documents from a FOIA lawsuit that expose the concerted efforts of the FBI and DHS to build a massive database of personal and biometric information. This database, called “Next Generation Identification” (NGI), has been in the works for several years now. However, the documents CCR posted show for the first time how FBI has taken advantage of the DHS Secure Communities program and both DHS and the State Department’s civil biometric data collection programs to build out this $1 billion database.
. . .Currently, the FBI and DHS have separate databases (called IAFIS and IDENT, respectively) that each have the capacity to store an extensive amount of information—including names, addresses, social security numbers, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, fingerprints, booking photos, unique identifying numbers, gender, race, and date of birth. Within the last few years, DHS and FBI have made their data easily searchable between the agencies. However, both databases remained independent, and were only “unimodal,” meaning they only had one biometric means of identifying someone—usually a fingerprint.
In contrast, as CCR’s FOIA documents reveal, FBI’s NGI database will be populated with data from both FBI and DHS records. Further, NGI will be “multimodal.” This means NGI is designed to allow the collection and storage of the now-standard 10-print fingerprint scan in addition to iris scans, palm prints, and voice data. It is also designed to expand to include other biometric identifiers in the future. NGI will also allow much greater storage of photos, including crime scene security camera photos, and, with its facial recognition and sophisticated search capabilities, it will have the “increased ability to locate potentially related photos (and other records associated with the photos) that might not otherwise be discovered as quickly or efficiently, or might never be discovered at all.”