FBI Plans Huge Biometric Index

On project 'Next Generation Identification'
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2007 12:29 PM CST
A man uses an iris recognition scanner during the Biometrics 2004 exhibition and conference October 14, 2004 in London. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The FBI is planning a $1 billion database of “biometric” information—face shapes, iris scans, palm patterns, and even gait patterns—to enhance investigations, the Washington Post reports. Critics fear that the plan, called Next Generation Identification, will further erode individual privacy as the body becomes a de facto identification card: "It's enabling the Always On Surveillance Society,” said an ACLU director.

Others say the technology is prone to errors. A Berlin study found that sensors picked scanned faces out of a crowd 60% of the time in daylight hours, but only 10-20% at night. The FBI, which will share the data with US and Canadian law enforcement, said the technology improves when techniques such as iris and palm scans are merged. "Bigger. Faster. Better. That's the bottom line," an FBI assistant director said.