FBI launches $1B ID search program

FBI launches $1B ID search program

Summary: A next-generation identification program is moving toward biometrics, and stepping away from traditional fingerprint searches.

TOPICS: Security

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is stepping up in its quest to exploit new technology to hunt down criminals, investing in a new system steeped in biometrics.

The FBI's $1 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) program's aim is to significantly improve the existing fingerprint identification service. The ambitious project may raise the hackles of privacy advocates, but the FBI is intent on including facial recognition, iris scanning, DNA analysis and voice identification tech as the new face of criminal investigation -- reliability and accuracy concerns aside.


The NGI program is also reported to include rolled and latent finger and palm prints.

A pilot scheme is currently being run by the agency compiles all of this information for different purposes. As an example, one test matches up headshots in crowd photos which are then compared with database-stored images from security footage.

Through the NGI, an algorithm would conduct an automatic search and return potential 'hits' to officers. In an additional advancement, a database will store visuals of scars, tattoos and other physical marks.

The FBI has collected this kind of information for a long time. For example, voice recognition can be matched when a recording is sent from another group, as can facial images. However, the new scheme is being rolled out nationwide -- a first for the organization.

In addition, the FBI plans to provide access to the new databases to state law enforcement agencies. In an age of security systems like Trapwire and torrent swarm poisoning, perhaps privacy advocacy groups have a right to be worried -- as the database may also capture and store images of the general public. However, it may also streamline services and make criminal investigations easier for the FBI to conduct.

It is expected to be implemented nationwide by 2014.

Topic: Security

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  • Overspending yet again

    The French defense contractor, Safran Group, bought the biggest American biometrics ID company, L-1 Identity Solutions, for just over $1 billion last year. The FBI is paying just about that for just a "program". Snarky comments aside, we have been inevitably moving towards Minority Report-type ID snooping and profiling, both by government and probably more so by private companies looking for brave new ways to sell you stuff. As far as the FBI program goes, they have a fairly chatty website about it all: https://www.fbibiospecs.org
  • The governernment is your Master

    Our Constitutional rights are slowly being taken away from us, one step at a time. It is happening so slowly that no-one is paying attention an accepting it as good little sheeple should. This is a step that tramples on the 4th & 5th amendments, and we're all going to just sit idly by and let it happen ... we are becoming the government's slaves.
    • Rather have Regular People Have the Power

      I for one, am far more afraid of the government than I am of my neighbors, even those who may be criminals. Instead of having huge centralized government, supremely powerful and controlled by a few corruptable humans (that is, any human), let's increase the capability for regular people to protect themselves through education, self-defense and awareness training, neighborhood groups, and yes, technology in the hands of the people.
  • here we go

    Can we say the conspiracy nuts are coming here today
    • Conspiracy nuts

      No, sarai1313, but you can say that we will be one big step closer to Big Brother and 1984.

      Come on, man, can't you see the potential for misuse of such a system?
      • Misuse is always a possibility with any technology

        So, we should sit back and use fingerprints alone, a technology that has been shown to be highly flawed, and never adopt any new technology to catch criminals just because one could misuse the technology? Really? I can misuse the pictures that have been taken of license plates at toll booths for decades. I can misuse fingerprints, DNA samples, GPS, surveillance, wiretaps, anything we are currently using to catch and convict criminals so that innocents get caught up in the system. So, what is the alternative? No security? There is no crime unless three people witness it?

        Personally, my hope is that newer technologies make investigations not so much easier as more accurate, so that they become more targeted earlier, pulling fewer innocents into them. And more rapid clearing of mis-identified individuals because of more available supporting data. That, in my view, makes us freer.

        If you really can't trust the people you put in charge of your government, then, particularly in this country, you have to find somewhere else to live. There is no society in the modern age that can survive without protection against crime and the apprehension of criminals when that protection fails. And there is no way to provide that protection and pursuit without the tools. Inaccurate tools hit the problem like a battering ram. The tools we are talking about have the potential to hit the problem like a scalpel. What we need then are the checks and balances to remove the possibility of misuse.
      • Every new advance in technology can be misused

        And does get misused, but not exactly just by the government. Besides the usual obvious stuff like identity theft and credit card & bank hacks, you have Facebook getting heat over using facial recognition, and Google over its mapping. But even less tech-seeming companies like Target are using very sophisticated profiling techniques to better, ummm, better serve their customers (if you want to put it that way.)

        It's basically the trade-off in living in an increasingly technological world. But since we are dealing with complex systems that are only going to get more complex, you are essentially guaranteed to have enough screw-ups and things going wrong (and smarter people uncovering matters) to regularly flag excessively bad behavior, no matter how hidden or covert it's intended to be.
    • head in the sand

      Yes sarai1313, be a good little sheeple and move along ... nothing to see here.
  • advance in technology

    A cheap pair of sunglasses can confuse sophisticated recognition cameras, baseball cap change and you are a different person! gloves of the right type stop fingerprints and DNA. DNA can be faked and easily destroyed with common household chemicals. This low end is what they should be looking at to catch criminals. The real criminals know more about the systems then they do. More waste of money.
  • Great.

    Now I won't be able to walk past a camera without agents sweeping down on me, just because some suspect somewhere was described as "ugly."
  • LEO Has address's, and contact info for most wanted people anyways

    LEO knows how to get most criminals, and where they are located, you got a warrant, they can just go to your house for 99% of the people anyways. The real purpose of this system is far more than just identifying you, it is tracking you, monitoring you, and building a profile on your actions, and since it is computer operated it can do this for each and every person who walks infront of a camera, swipes a CC, or logs in online. In short it is a hybrid wiretap without a warrant
    Max McCoy
  • Privacy?

    What privacy?
  • baaa

    you are free america, free to do what your government tells you do.
    Scarface Claw
  • 1984

    Was not intended as an instruction maual
  • Database containing everyone

    If you've served in the Military your DNA is on file in order to aid identification if you're blown up in combat. It would also help the FBI identify you if you commit a crime.

    My wife and I had our kids fingerprinted in the event they were ever snatched. I hope that doesn't come back to bite them someday.

    I know, I know.. If you never commit a crime what difference does it make? I just hope that statement is always true.
    • Sell your children to Pharaoh

      Many people these days also get Social Security numbers for their infant children so they can get a few dollars worth of "tax deductions", effectively turning a newborn free citizen into a "subject". My inclination would be to forgo the tax deduction and let my offspring make an informed decision whether to become a part of the "system" when they come of age.
      Tony R.