The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.Raise your hand if you can think of a group of perfectly law-abiding people who have undergone criminal background checks and turned a complete set of prints over to the FBI, and who employers or others may want to be able to identify.
Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.
If you can read this article without your skin crawling, you must be dead. Another particularly heinous passage jumped out at me:
In the world's first large-scale, scientific study on how well face recognition works in a crowd, the German government this year found that the technology, while promising, was not yet effective enough to allow its use by police. The study was conducted from October 2006 through January at a train station in Mainz, Germany, which draws 23,000 passengers daily. The study found that the technology was able to match travelers' faces against a database of volunteers more than 60 percent of the time during the day, when the lighting was best. But the rate fell to 10 to 20 percent at night.Twenty-three people per day, who, under current guilty-until-proven-innocent standards of combating "terrorism," would likely have their lives ruined. Sure this was in Germany, but if you think our own Only Ones would be any different, you haven't been paying attention. And get this:
To achieve those rates, the German police agency said it would tolerate a false positive rate of 0.1 percent, or the erroneous identification of 23 people a day. In real life, those 23 people would be subjected to further screening measures, the report said.
In 2004, the Electronic Privacy Information Center objected to the FBI's exemption of the National Crime Information Center database from the Privacy Act requirement that records be accurate. The group noted that the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2001 found that information in the system was "not fully reliable" and that files "may be incomplete or inaccurate." FBI officials justified that exemption by claiming that in law enforcement data collection, "it is impossible to determine in advance what information is accurate, relevant, timely and complete."Translation: Everybody's guilty. Deal with it.
"The long-term goal," Hornak said, is "ubiquitous use" of biometrics. A traveler may walk down an airport corridor and allow his face and iris images to be captured without ever stepping up to a kiosk and looking into a camera, he said.Those who don't choose it will be dealt with.
"That's the key," he said. "You've chosen it. You have chosen to say, 'Yeah, I want this place to recognize me.'"
via The Liberty Papers