FBI launches $1B ID search program

A next-generation identification program is moving toward biometrics, and stepping away from traditional fingerprint searches.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

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.

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