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FBI Launches $1 Billion Nationwide Face Recognition System 188

MrSeb writes "The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun rolling out its new $1 billion biometric Next Generation Identification (NGI) system. In essence, NGI is a nationwide database of mugshots, iris scans, DNA records, voice samples, and other biometrics that will help the FBI identify and catch criminals — but it is how this biometric data is captured, through a nationwide network of cameras and photo databases, that is raising the eyebrows of privacy advocates. Until now, the FBI relied on IAFIS, a national fingerprint database that has long been due an overhaul. Over the last few months, the FBI has been pilot testing a face recognition system, which will soon be scaled up (PDF) until it's nationwide. In theory, this should result in much faster positive identifications of criminals and fewer unsolved cases. The problem is, the FBI hasn't guaranteed that the NGI will only use photos of known criminals. There may come a time when the NGI is filled with as many photos as possible, from as many sources as possible, of as many people as possible — criminal or otherwise. Imagine if the NGI had full access to every driving license and passport photo in the country — and DNA records kept by doctors, and iris scans kept by businesses. The FBI's NGI, if the right checks and balances aren't in place, could very easily become a tool that decimates civilian privacy and freedom."
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FBI Launches $1 Billion Nationwide Face Recognition System

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  • Anyone will do... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @05:03PM (#41266821)

    The problem is that cops get points for arresting someone (catch the criminal).
    They don't necessarily get points deducted for catching the wrong person.
    This database will help them rack up points by finding someone who vaguely matches. All they need to do then is get them to "confess" (aka "plea bargain").

  • FB et. al? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 07, 2012 @05:06PM (#41266879)

    How long until Facebook and other considerably large photography aggregators get tapped for their "resources"?

  • public datasets (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 07, 2012 @05:08PM (#41266899)

    During a 2010 presentation [biometrics.org]made by the FBI’s Biometric Center of Intelligence, the FBI said the technology could be used for "identifying subjects in public databases."

    Hello, Facebok!

  • Privacy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by byteherder ( 722785 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @05:10PM (#41266949)

    Who thinks this will stop at just helping "the FBI identify and catch criminals"?
    This is a bigger threat to privacy than anything in history.

  • Re:Anyone will do... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @05:19PM (#41267069)

    All they need to do then is get them to "confess" (aka "plea bargain").

    And conveniently over 90 percent of federal cases end in plea bargaining. And if you make the mistake of not taking the offer and get found guilty at trial, you can be virtually certain to end up with a harsher sentence and at a minimum, you want receive the "downward departure" for being cooperative which is standard in federal cases.

    That being said, why wait until that phase to get the confession when you can just send in the private investigators from the start. PIs aren't bound by any of that "Miranda Act" nonsense and can pretty much say anything they want to get you to incriminate yourself and it all stands up in court just as well as if an interviewing detective had gotten you to talk.

  • Registry Opt-out (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Narnie ( 1349029 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @05:34PM (#41267295)

    I'm not particularly interested in this service. Where's the opt-out (do-not-fly) list signup?

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger