FBI launches $1B effort to build biometrics database
By WASHINGTON POST
Published December 22, 2007
CLARKSBURG, W. Va. - 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.
Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks.
"Bigger. Faster. Better. That's the bottom line," said Thomas E. Bush III , assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which operates the database from its headquarters in the Appalachian foothills.
Privacy advocates worry about the ability of people to correct false information. "Unlike say, a credit card number, biometric data is forever," said Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley technology forecaster. He said he feared that the FBI, whose computer technology record has been marred by expensive failures, could not guarantee the data's security. "If someone steals and spoofs your iris image, you can't just get a new eyeball," Saffo said.
[Last modified December 22, 2007, 01:35:32]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]