PRIVACY + SECURITY BLOG

News, Developments, and Insights

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The New Identification: The FBI’s Biometric Database

Fingerprint Biometric

From CNN:

The FBI is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people’s physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists.

But it’s an issue that raises major privacy concerns — what one civil liberties expert says should concern all Americans.

The bureau is expected to announce in coming days the awarding of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to help create the database that will compile an array of biometric information — from palm prints to eye scans.

Kimberly Del Greco, the FBI’s Biometric Services section chief, said adding to the database is “important to protect the borders to keep the terrorists out, protect our citizens, our neighbors, our children so they can have good jobs, and have a safe country to live in.”

But it’s unnerving to privacy experts.

“It’s the beginning of the surveillance society where you can be tracked anywhere, any time and all your movements, and eventually all your activities will be tracked and noted and correlated,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Technology and Liberty Project.

The FBI already has 55 million sets of fingerprints on file. In coming years, the bureau wants to compare palm prints, scars and tattoos, iris eye patterns, and facial shapes. The idea is to combine various pieces of biometric information to positively identify a potential suspect.

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The FBI’s New Surveillance System

Surveillance

Remember the good old days, when the FBI used tools such as Carnivore, the device that sifted through email traffic at ISPs. The FBI renamed the device DCS-1000 to sound less ominous and mean, but the name Carnivore stuck. Later on, Carnivore no longer became necessary, as ISPs could deliver the goods to the FBI without its help. Attention then shifted to the NSA, the new king of surveillance.

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FBI Plans Data Mining Project

Data Mining

Several years ago, the Department of Defense began developing a program called Total Information Awareness, a massive data mining project analyzing personal information on every citizen of the United States. After a series of blistering op-eds and strong negative public reaction, the Senate voted to stop all funding for the program.Continue Reading

Enforcing the Surveillance Laws

Surveillance

As many of the recent revelations of government surveillance and information gathering are revealing, government agencies such as the FBI and NSA are violating the law. Recently, the DOJ investigation into the FBI’s use of NSLs reveals many violations of law. So where are the penalties?

In the latest surveillance scandal, the FBI says that it is sorry. According to the New York Times:

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