FBI Wants To Build Huge Biometric Database

from the you-have-no-privacy dept

We just found out that the White House has chosen not to staff the official “Privacy Board” that is supposed to make sure gov’t surveillance doesn’t infringe on American citizens’ privacy. That came right after National Intelligence Director, Mike McConnell, announced that he’s hoping to get the rights to monitor all internet traffic. Since news tends to come in threes (well, so says the urban legend) now comes the news that the FBI is looking to put together a huge biometric database containing info on fingerprints, palm prints, iris recognition mug shots and scars of anyone they can gather this info on. This seems like a typical reaction from a gov’t agency, and with the announcement comes all the typical political doubletalk about how this is for safety, claiming that 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.”

However, as has been made clear countless times, these types of databases always get abused. Much more importantly, as Tim pointed out recently, violating peoples’ privacy doesn’t provide more security. In fact, it often does the opposite. It makes it easier for important data to get lost in the pile, and it also means that that data is now that much less secure. The database itself suddenly becomes a huge target. So, in an effort to make the country “more secure,” an effort like this can actually do the opposite.

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Comments on “FBI Wants To Build Huge Biometric Database”

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José Luis (profile) says:

I don’t know much about security, but it seems reasonable that if you want a biometric database to identify terrorists, then you will put terrorist’s biometric info on that database….

Why is it that goverments allways try to do things the wrong way?

On the other hand, we could put people info on one database when born, and then remove that info from it when they go criminals (of any flavor) or terrorists. That will be easy, right?

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Tattoos Too!

I can see it now. The coming tattoo fashion trend…

(Tattooist) Hello, what can I do for you today?

(Customer) Hi, I’m gonna be coaching little league next month and I have to go get a Federal BioMetric Scan done, so what do you have in the “Stick-it-to-the-Man” category. Something large enough to go on my left butt cheek that will look good in their database and really ‘pop’ on the TSA data terminals.

(Tattooist) Well, quite a bit really. Let’s see here. Here’s a nice middle finger graphic…

(Customer)..Oh, I like the golden rays of light radiating out from the finger. Nice.

(Tattooist) …and here’s a popular one. J. Edgar Hoover in a cocktail dress…a customer last week had me add a string of pearls to the neckline, just there. And here’s a big favorite…large block letter text of “KISS THIS, G-MAN!”

And so on…

Go Mike!!! says:


Usually I’m the one of your love/hate fans who will nay-say your bad articles but equally give you kudos on your good ones. This is EXCELLENT! I’ve been doing more and more research on these “security” tactics that our country has been doing. Our government is supposed to protect and serve us by upholding the constitution which we were founded by. Not only is the government ignoring it, they’re taking the constitution, lighting it on fire and pissing on the ashes. This is getting more and more out of hand. In fact it’s absurd. Why haven’t more citizens realized our government is completely intruding on our rights and nobody is doing anything about it. It’s completely out of control and being driven by the nations worst leader it’s ever seen since its’ birthright. If you read CNN’s article about the new FBI program, it’s basically designed so they know where you are, and what you’re doing at any given moment. It just makes you wonder if Orwell’s “1984” has become more of a reality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

#8 made me lol.

Some administrations, yes sure. They aren’t all bad. But this one… It’s been nothing but down hill since Bush first got elected. The ONLY time he hasn’t pissed me off is on 9/11 when he went to Ground Zero and gave an off the cuff speech. Before his handlers could get a hook back in him.

Course then the next day he uses it and distorts the facts to drive us into war against the man who ‘tried to kill my daddy’ as he said in an interview. A man whom we also put into power in the first place.

Greatest military in the world and they can’t find a 6’4″ man on dialysis? Methinks they were looking in the wrong country.

Oh and lets just ignore him calling the Constitution a ‘goddamned piece of paper’ and pushing legislation after legislation that has screwed American society (No Child Left Behind, PATRIOT Act, Protect America Act, ect ect).

Dear lord, I almost don’t care who gets into power next. I just want them to undo the damage Bush has done. And not even the damage to our reputation. I’ll let other countries hate me just fine so long as we stop flexing our muscles unnecessarily and all this self serving greed gets thrown out.

I love America. The original idea of America anyways . . .

RAD says:

who's in it?

are you in this database? have you given the government your fingerprints? your palm print? your iris scan??
how does the government get these things? when you commit a crime and are “booked”. right??
so who’s in the database? criminals and suspected criminals.
who else? non-americans who give their fingerprints as part of the process to get a visa and enter the US.
is this violating your privacy?

In many countries it’s very easy to change your name and get a new passport with that new name. biometrics are the only way to prevent known criminals or known terrorists from entering our country.

Until they require the fingerprints of all american citizens, it’s hard to say it’s an invasion of our privacy.

Alimas says:

Re: who's in it?

Are you on crack? Do you actually feel secure? Do you read the news?
The government had been doing secret wire tapping with no focus on criminals only for all this time and you think that a giant biometric data would never be used to document the regular citizen? This doesn’t set off any alarms to you that its in the step of regularly diminishing privacy and rights of all the humans under the eye of our government?
Are you kidding me?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: who's in it?

how does the government get these things? when you commit a crime and are “booked”. right??

Wrong. Anyone arrested will usually be fingerprinted whether they actually committed a crime or not. I personally had to give my fingerprints when I got my first driver’s license. Is that a crime? I’ve been fingerprinted twice more since then: once for a state background check and once for a federal background check. I also had to give a thumb print at the bank the other day. And then there are the “ident-a-child” programs that encourage parents to have their children fingerprinted. The assertion that only criminals get fingerprinted is absurd.

Until they require the fingerprints of all american citizens, it’s hard to say it’s an invasion of our privacy.

That’s only one small step away.

Anonymous Coward says:

what are we coming to?

America was founded on a few basic ideas. the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis, and our PRIVACY. i do understand that without some form of security we are “sitting ducks.” However, this is taking “security” to the KGB level. imagine if you will, this country set up with the idea that EVERYTHING you do, including when and where you relieve yourself is recorded, tested for flaws, or go so far as taking samples. If we as a country allow this to happen, (and yes, we DO have the right to say NO, it’s written upon the constitution itself) we are allowing a form of tyranny that hasn’t been on this earth since hitler and the natzis. I truly hope for our sake as a country that we finally make a stand against not the government, but the corruption that has been allowed to freely grow within the government. the saddest part of this whole mess is that the government was put there for us…and was never intended to be used against us. i will weep for our future generations if this does indeed happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am a former Marine and at one point held a top secret security clearance. On file somewhere (maybe everywhere) are my fingerprints and DNA. I have not observed my rights being violated or anything negative coming out of the fact that the govt. has my information.

I guess maybe were I to go out and rape someone or leave a fingerprint robbing a bank it would come back to hurt me, but that isn’t going to happen. No local politicians have framed me for something, the police have not come after me, gee, I wonder why?

Maybe its because I am not a dirtball?

Anonymous Coward says:

Vincent, you are just another bleating sheep if you believe that all this started with GWB.

All right, lets go back to the principles of our founding fathers. Lets go by the intent, the beliefs and the letter of the constitution.

Of course, we would have to bring back slavery. Women will stop voting, but hey, we will finally live up to the beliefs of our founders.

The Constitution is a living, breathing set of ideals that evolve over time to adjust to realities of life. Rules that worked for a few people in a small country just wouldn’t scale up to 400 million. Security that was good then isn’t good now, where someone can take out a govt. office building with a dump truck full of fertilizer or wipe out a major city.

Alimas says:

Re: Re:

While thats all true, some actions that can be taken to limit crime and violence to balance out against limits on rights/privacy they may impose, or, separately, the risks they themselves may represent.
The biometric database proposes very little additional security in exchange for a huge capacity for abuse. Abuse doesn’t necessarily mean something on the scale of massive nation wide government oppression, it means the inability to find a set of humans who are disconnected enough from society to have no preference to do anything with the access to the information they control.
Consider what use such a database is anyway? Don’t we already have effective systems in place to track the fingerprints, mugshots and such of criminals already? These databases don’t prevent crimes or murder they simply help put a name to a fingerprint or, much more commonly, confirm the identity of the repeat criminal.
It doesn’t find him, it doesn’t convince anyone not to do a crime and it doesn’t change the past.

Our society does not need more enforcement, but instead more understanding unto our own society and our own natures.

Such as why most of the world hates us and thus terrorist organizations flourish in many parts of the world.
That’d be a good place to start.
And not a complicated one. Just requires a history book.

Heath says:

Do what fish do when a threatened...

… scatter. It’s true that any centralized point of information congregation makes it a bigger target and decreases the security and privacy of the people in which the information was gathered from.

We all know any database such as this has nothing to do with protecting the American people and everything to do with keeping tabs on American people. The dangers of this have been discussed before so I’m not getting into it.

We are much safer as anonymous citizens. If the US wants to make our country safe and defeat the terrorists, the best way to do it is to stop trying to control the world, beef up our own science and technology programs and build up a space program that will eventually get us off this overcrowded planet.

‘Nuf said

Ylanne Sorrows (user link) says:

Are You Kidding Me

Look, I’m neither anti-American nor terrorist, nor anarchist or any of that sort. I love my country, at least what it was intended to be and what it started as. But don’t get me wrong here. This is an invasion of privacy. For the greater good? Yeah, sure, whatever. But when you infringe on someone’s rights, well, the entire community can’t benefit from that, can they. If we try to stop crime the wrong way, it won’t work and the crime rate will only be exacerbated. The whole convoluted state America is in right now is the fault of the bureaucratic mess we’ve gotten in!

The FBI should not be allowed to do this. This is in direct infringement of the Constitution. Our governments destroy themselves when they begin to turn against the framework that put it in place to begin with. Are we the new Rome? The question has been posed many times, and blossomed into a conspiracy theory. But could it be true? One of the (many) causes of the inevitable downfall of the Roman Empire was corruption and abuse within the government, exactly what this is. The Declaration of Independence states “…all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness–that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” Well, they may not have our consent if they continually abuse their power, which WE handed to them.

We only broke away from Britain because of her innumerable acts of injustice and indignation against us. She consistently abused her powers and ruled with an iron fist. Is this what the FBI, the protectorate of a free country, is now also doing?! Stand up for what is right, and if you do so, you cannot allow this to continue.

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