The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been developing a gigantic database containing biometric information on a significant portion of the United States. The human identifiers contained in this database — photos, fingerprints, facial signatures, iris scans, palm prints, birthmarks, voice recognition, DNA — are not only taken from people who have been arrested, they are also being collected from millions of Americans who have not been charged with any crime.
The database is called “Next Generation Identification” (NGI) is being built upon the FBI’s legacy database of 100 million fingerprints collected over the past several decades, called the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Now, the FBI’s Biometric Center of Excellence has taken that database and expanded it to include all sorts of other personal identifiers. It is estimated that one-third of the population of the USA has personal bodily identifiers stored in the FBI’s database.
In 2012, the bureau spent $1,000,000,000.00 taxpayer dollars in an effort to add millions of face-scans to the database. With its current capabilities, a facial image can be matched to a stored profile amongst millions of entries in under 2 seconds. The feds have passports, driver’s licenses, mugshots, surveillance cameras, and social media at their disposal to create their massive database. Dozens of states have already integrated facial recognition into their driver’s licenses, and some are sharing that information with the FBI.
The map below from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) shows a summary of states who have begun sharing biometrics information with the FBI’s NGI database. (Note: this does not reflect all the states that are actively using facial recognition in their driver’s licenses.)
The sheer number of Americans classified as “criminals” is startling; a testament to the breadth of the police state. All of those criminal records give the FBI a major boost toward databasing the whole population.
The EFF reported that by 2015, the NGI database will include the faces of 52 million Americans. Among these, will be an admitted 4.3 million entered for non-criminal reasons and 1 million from unexplained sources. The database is capable of processing 55,000 direct photo enrollments daily and of conducting tens of thousands of searches every day.
The massive trove of face scans introduces Americans not only represents a massive loss of anonymity and privacy, but introduces people to the frightening new prospect of being misidentified by a computer program during a crime investigation. If one’s facial characteristics closely resemble that of a wanted criminal, the FBI could be sent after a completely innocent person.
With the prospect of the government accessing all of your electronic communications and remotely picking your face out of a crowd of thousands, Americans have truly entered an Orwellian reality from which there will be no return.