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The FBI can now keep secret who's in its biometrics database

The FBI has obtained a legal exemption from federal privacy laws, thanks to a final rule published by the DOJ. *** The agency can now keep secret whose data it has stored in its vast biometrics database. *** The database has fingerprints, photos for facial recognition, iris patterns, and voice and gait recognition datasets. *** The FBI has long fought to keep who's stored in its biometrics database a secret. *** It argues not doing so "could compromise ongoing, authorized law enforcement and national security efforts." *** The database includes information of individuals who apply for citizenship or must get a background check. *** The Electronic Frontier Foundation said it contained 71 million criminal records and 39 million civil records in 2015. *** Now, it can bypass key protections in the Privacy Act, which allow for judicial redress and opting out of the database. *** Individuals will also no longer be able to get information about what data the government stores on them. *** This could prevent them from taking action if they feel they are being unfairly targeted for political purposes. *** The ACLU said the FBI's decision to "exempt this database from basic privacy protections invites abuse." *** The new rule will go into effect on August 31, 2017.

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