Sunday, December 23, 2007

FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics

Yikes! - now this is something that Britain has done - and they are having massive problems with keeping information confidential.

We had better not allow this to happen here in this country.
I can think of much better ways to spend our tax dollars than trying to catalog all of us like livestock.

Here are excerpts of the story in the Washington Post entitled : FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics - $1 Billion Project to Include Images of Irises and Faces, By Ellen Nakashima
The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.

Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.

"Bigger. Faster. Better. That's the bottom line," said Thomas E. Bush III, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which operates the database from its headquarters in the Appalachian foothills.

The increasing use of biometrics for identification is raising questions about the ability of Americans to avoid unwanted scrutiny. It is drawing criticism from those who worry that people's bodies will become de facto national identification cards. Critics say that such government initiatives should not proceed without proof that the technology really can pick a criminal out of a crowd.


The Department of Homeland Security has been using iris scans at some airports to verify the identity of travelers who have passed background checks and who want to move through lines quickly. The department is also looking to apply iris- and face-recognition techniques to other programs. The DHS already has a database of millions of sets of fingerprints, which includes records collected from U.S. and foreign travelers stopped at borders for criminal violations, from U.S. citizens adopting children overseas, and from visa applicants abroad. There could be multiple records of one person's prints.

"It's going to be an essential component of tracking," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the Technology and Liberty Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. "It's enabling the Always On Surveillance Society."

If successful, the system planned by the FBI, called Next Generation Identification, will collect a wide variety of biometric information in one place for identification and forensic purposes.

In an underground facility the size of two football fields, a request reaches an FBI server every second from somewhere in the United States or Canada, comparing a set of digital fingerprints against the FBI's database of 55 million sets of electronic fingerprints. A possible match is made -- or ruled out--as many as 100,000 times a day.

Soon, the server at CJIS headquarters will also compare palm prints and, eventually, iris images and face-shape data such as the shape of an earlobe. If all goes as planned, a police officer making a traffic stop or a border agent at an airport could run a 10-fingerprint check on a suspect and within seconds know if the person is on a database of the most wanted criminals and terrorists. An analyst could take palm prints lifted from a crime scene and run them against the expanded database. Intelligence agents could exchange biometric information worldwide.


At the West Virginia University Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR), 45 minutes north of the FBI's biometric facility in Clarksburg, researchers are working on capturing images of people's irises at distances of up to 15 feet, and of faces from as far away as 200 yards. Soon, those researchers will do biometric research for the FBI.

Covert iris- and face-image capture is several years away, but it is of great interest to government agencies.


To safeguard privacy, audit trails are kept on everyone who has access to a record in the fingerprint database, Del Greco said. People may request copies of their records, and the FBI audits all agencies that have access to the database every three years, she said.

"We have very stringent laws that control who can go in there and to secure the data," [Thomas] Bush said.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the ability to share data across systems is problematic. "You're giving the federal government access to an extraordinary amount of information linked to biometric identifiers that is becoming increasingly inaccurate," he said.


Privacy advocates worry about the ability of people to correct false information. "Unlike say, a credit card number, biometric data is forever," said Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley technology forecaster. He said he feared that the FBI, whose computer technology record has been marred by expensive failures, could not guarantee the data's security. "If someone steals and spoofs your iris image, you can't just get a new eyeball," Saffo said.

In the future, said CITeR director Lawrence A. Hornak, devices will be able to "recognize us and adapt to us."

"The long-term goal," Hornak said, is "ubiquitous use" of biometrics. A traveler may walk down an airport corridor and allow his face and iris images to be captured without ever stepping up to a kiosk and looking into a camera, he said.

If you aren't concerned about this project - then you sure ought to be.
They will be taking your iris prints - your measurements and other bio-metric information without your permission, and without you knowing it.
Now there's a comforting thought.
Talk about identity theft!

This is outrageous! And downright un-American!

Consider the upcoming elections.
We need to vote people into office who will stop this insanity!


Irdial said...

Now read this:


Readers may find some parallels with our experience of biometrics over here in England or, to be more precise, the United Kingdom (UK).

We are considering three different biometrics for our ePassports (electronic passports), biometric visas and the ID cards the government propose to issue us with in two years time:

1. biometrics based on facial geometry.
2. biometrics based on fingerprints.
And 3. biometrics based on irisprints.

When you first come to this subject, biometrics are all one thing, undifferentiated. You soon discover that there are big differences.

Facial geometry has been dealt with above -- 12/23/2007 4:25:12 PM. So now, on to fingerprints.

We all trust fingerprinting as a biometric. And with good reason. It has been around for a century or so and it works. Traditional fingerprinting, rolled prints, taken by a police expert, using ink, work. Rolled prints are admissible as evidence in court.

But that is not what is on offer in the UK National Identity Scheme. Rolled prints are dirty, time-consuming and expensive. Instead, what is on offer is flat prints. Basically, you stick your fingers on a photo-copier, and that is it. It is clean. It is quick. It is cheap. And it does not work. Flat prints are not admissible as evidence in court.

We did a trial of flat print technology here in the UK and found that 19 or 20 percent of the time, the technology did not recognise people, please see .

That was just a trial. What about evidence based on large-scale production use of flat print technology? There are no examples in the UK. But there is one in the US -- US-VISIT.

In the early days of US-VISIT, the NIST published a report saying they expected flat prints to be about 99.5 percent accurate when it comes to verifying peoples identity, see . That was based on the DHS proposal to register people with just their two index fingers.

A year later, the US Department of Justice reviewed the performance of US-VISIT. According to the Office of the Inspector General, please see :

1. 118,000 people pass through US-VISIT each day. They are all subject to biometric checks (i.e. primary inspection, by computers).

2. 22,350 of them (19 percent) fail and are referred to secondary inspection, by immigration officers.

3. 1,811 of them (1.5 percent of all visitors, 8 percent of secondary inspections) are refused entry into the US.

22,350 is 19 percent of 118,000. There is that figure again, 19 percent, the error rate found in the UK trials. Is it the same 19 percent?

Hard to say. Failing biometric checks is not the only reason people are referred to secondary inspection. They can also be referred because they are acting suspiciously. Or because they match prints on the watchlists provided by the FBI. So maybe it is the same 19 percent, maybe it is not.

One thing is for sure. It looks as though 22,350 - 1,811 = 20,539 visitors are having their time wasted by this technology. This looks more like a blunderbuss than a precise science. And remember, flat print evidence is still not admissible as evidence in court. Obviously the courts do not think it is reliable enough. Far from being 99.5 percent accurate, as the NIST expected, it seems to be more like 80 or 81 percent accurate.

Which is one reason why the NIST have been begging the DHS for years to switch from two- to ten-print registration. The DHS have finally agreed.

But will it help? Will it make the performance of flat print identity verification in US-VISIT more reliable? Maybe. You cannot guess. You have to wait and see. Only then is it possible to make an informed judgement about investing hundreds of millions of dollars in this technology. That should be obvious to anyone.

But not to our politicians here in the UK. They will not listen to the evidence of 80 percent reliability. They continue to talk of near-100 percent reliability. They have never acknowledged in public that the near-100 percent accurate traditional technology is not the technology on offer.

Our politicians in the UK are being irrational. And they are threatening to waste hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money on a technology that looks as though it will not help to counter terrorism or to prevent and detect crime.


that is one of the many insightful comments on the washington post story.

What the comment leaves out is the astronomical cost of USVISIT, into the BILLIONS and the astonishing fact that people are counted INTO the USA but not OUT OF the USA in the system!

I am not making this up, read about it from here.

And then read about how USVISIT has wasted 15 BILLION dollars to catch 1500 'bad guys'.

The united states is on the brink of fascism. Everyone knows it, and unless something is done about it, it WILL HAPPEN.

Thankfully, America is populated with people who have the guts and brains to put things right when they have done wrong. They have done it before, and they will do it again.

If they fix this, and return that nation to its roots, reversing is disastrous course, it will cement their position in the world as the greatest nation that ever existed in the history of mankind.

And I mean that.

Irdial said...

Further to this, there is an article in The Times about all visitors to the EU being fingerprinted. Americans are now saying that they will not visit the EU because of this measure.

Read the comments there, to see what I mean.

This is yet another sign of just how ignorant and insular some americans are.

Absolutely astonishing and apalling.