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DoJ Budget Request Details Advanced Surveillance, Biometrics 39

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a report about programs revealed in the Department of Justice's 2010 budget request, which includes $233.9 million in funding for an "Advanced Electronic Surveillance" project, and $97.6 million to establish the Biometric Technology Center. The surveillance project is designed to help the FBI "deal with changing technology and ways to intercept phone calls such as those used by VOIP phones or technology such as Skype. The program is also conducting research on ways to conduct automated analysis to look for links between subjects of surveillance and other investigative suspects." The Center for Democracy and Technology's Jim Dempsey warns, "It is appropriate for the FBI to develop more and more powerful interception tools, but the privacy laws that are supposed to guide and limit the use of those tools have not kept pace." The biometrics plan lays groundwork for a "vast database of personal data including fingerprints, iris scans and DNA which the FBI calls the Next Generation Identification," a system we have discussed in the past.
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DoJ Budget Request Details Advanced Surveillance, Biometrics

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  • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday May 10, 2009 @12:21PM (#27897375)
    and civil liberties in this country, and if this plan makes you nervous, there is one ray of hope in all this. Federal law enforcement has a dismal record of implementing such sophisticated database systems. The FBI, for example, has spent billions and failed repeatedly. Not just law enforcement, either: the IRS and the FAA have both spent enormous sums on failed systems upgrades and botched implementations. I have the feeling this will be no different ... although that doesn't mean it won't be a real problem, privacy-wise, regardless of its (unfounded, unproven and probably worthless) utility as an antiterrorism tool. Furthermore, given law enforcement's proven inability to maintain accurate and auditable records, its unwillingness to correct any errors, and the effect such errors have on the populace (the TSA's no-fly list comes to mind) it's clear that the Feds should never be allowed to operate such a system.

    Terrorism is an evil enterprise, true enough. But this isn't all that far behind.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday May 10, 2009 @02:12PM (#27898277)

    But look at all the criminals we catch as a result!

    Which is another good point. If they're going to run such a system, they'd better be prepared to provide accurate and public records on just how well it performs, and precisely what activities were embarked upon in response to collected data. The TSA's approach of doing whatever the hell they want, and then lying to Congress about it is completely unacceptable, but I think there's a good chance this effort will head down the same road.

    Sad fact is, law enforcement in any county, under any legal system, cannot and should not be given more power than they can be trusted to use wisely. In the United States today ... that's not very much power at all.

  • by vandan (151516) on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:45AM (#27902495) Homepage

    Actually I would say:

    a) Obama is a liar, sure ... but:
    b) Bush is too stupid to be evil. He just had evil people pulling his strings

    But more generally, I think you're on the right track. The similarity between Obama's and Bush's policies demonstrates that the US has yet to achieve anything even remotely democratic, and further, that it doesn't appear to matter who becomes president or which party wins government ... the same shit keeps happening.

    Time to organise outside the political establishment.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

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