The FBI plans to launch by summer’s end a facial recognition system that “poses real threats to privacy for all Americans” and could include 4.3 million photos taken for non-criminal purposes within a year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports.
“The FBI’s massive biometric database that may hold records on as much as one third of the U.S. population,” the EFF said, citing documents it has received as part of a Freedom of Information Act legal fight. “The facial recognition component of this database poses real threats to privacy for all Americans.”
The 4.4 million non-crime-related images would be part of the “Next Generation Identification” system, which “builds on the FBI’s legacy fingerprint database—which already contains well over 100 million individual records—and has been designed to include multiple forms of biometric data, including palm prints and iris scans in addition to fingerprints and face recognition data.”
One source for those new images: Routine employer fingerprint checks. A copy of the fingerprints are already sent to the FBI’s non-civil database; a photo could not be added if employers ask that they be taken, EFF says. The issue: NGI would also mean first-ever searches of both the criminal and noncriminal databases.
“This means that even if you have never been arrested for a crime, if your employer requires you to submit a photo as part of your background check, your face image could be searched—and you could be implicated as a criminal suspect—just by virtue of having that image in the non-criminal file.”
The graphic below shows the status, as of 2012, of FBI discussions with states for participating in NGI. “The FBI hopes to bring all states online with NGI by this year,” EFF said.
SOURCE: Electronic Frontier Fondation
FBI Director Robert Mueller told a congressional panel today that his agency is using drones for surveillance on U.S. soil and has not yet developed policies for privacy protections. “We have very few (drones) of limited use, and we’re exploring not only the use, but the necessary guidelines for that use.”
This is cheery. From the Electronic Privacy Information Center:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has exempted the FBI Data Warehouse System from important Privacy Act safeguards. The database ingests troves of personally identifiable information including race, birthdate, biometric information, social security numbers, and financial information from various government agencies.
The database contains information on a surprisingly broad category of individuals, including “subjects, suspects, victims, witnesses, complainants, informants, sources, bystanders, law enforcement personnel, intelligence personnel, other responders, administrative personnel, consultants, relatives, and associates who may be relevant to the investigation or intelligence operation; individuals who are identified in open source information or commercial databases, or who are associated, related, or have a nexus to the FBI’s missions; individuals whose information is collected and maintained for information system user auditing and security purposes.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has exempted these records from the notification, access, and amendment provisions of the Privacy Act.
Here is a little visual timeline for how the FBI plans to keep an eye on you.
SOURCE: 2010 FBI presentation.
Engadget and New Scientist have more details on the $1 billion “Next Generation Identification” program that is being rolled out as an upgrade to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
As Engadget puts it, this will allow the feds to “be on to your evildoing everywhere.”
The ACLU tells New Scientist ““Once you start plugging this into the FBI database, it becomes tantamount to a national photographic database.”
Could “biometrics” — the electronic collection of fingerprints, iris scans, blood samples and photographs in public places — replace the Social Security number as a primary identifier? That’s a possibility, a new report warns, and the privacy implications are significant.
“The rapid expansion of programs that collect, store, and share biometric data has raised important concerns over privacy and data accuracy for citizens and non‐citizens alike,” the Immigration Policy Center says in a new report, “From Fingerprints to DNA: Biometric Data Collection in U.S. Immigrant Communities and Beyond.” (Full Report | Summary Report)
“If biometrics become standardized, they could replace social security numbers as the primary form of identification. The next time someone applies for insurance, sees her doctor, or fills out an apartment rental application, she could be asked for her thumbprint or iris scan. Data standardization also increases the ability of government or private companies to locate and track a given person throughout their lives. “
Privacy becomes a much more significant issue as government agencies begin sharing their biometric data, the report says.
“As a result of data sharing between agencies, biometric data collected for non‐criminal purposes, such as immigration‐related records, are combined with and used for criminal or national‐security purposes with little to no standards, oversight, or transparency.
“When some of this data comes from sources such as local fusion centers and private security guards in the form of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), it can perpetuate racially motivated targeting of immigrant communities. The addition of crowd and security camera photographs means that anyone could end up in the database—even if they’re not involved in a crime—by just happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
How much data is collected? According to the report:
- DHS collects approximately 300,000 fingerprints per day from non‐U.S. citizens crossing U.S. borders
- The FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint System (IAFIS) and DHS’s Automated biometric Identification System (IDENT) each hold 100+ million records.
- The federal government and all 50 states collect DNA, primarily through the criminal justice system.
- All 50 states, the federal government and the District of Columbia collect and share DNA records through the FBI’s . . .large centrally‐managed database that links DNA profiles taken from federal, state, and territorial DNA collection programs.
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may also begin collecting DNA from others who interact with the agency. New rules . . require DHS to collect DNA from any non‐United States person it detains. DHS estimates this could affect up to 1 million people per year, including juveniles.
FBI turns off thousands of GPS devices after Supreme Court ruling
(WSJ DIgits) “The Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a “sea change” inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.
“Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called “Big Brother in the 21st Century” on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.
“These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law.