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The UAE Claims To Hold the Worlds Largest Biometric Database

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the biggest-list dept.

Privacy 82

another random user writes "The United Arab Emirates holds the largest biometric database in the world, the Emirates Identity Authority has announced. The population register of Emirates ID has over 103 million digital fingerprints and over 15 million digital facial recognition records, which includes multiple records of each UAE resident, and digital signatures as of October 11, senior officials said. Dr. Ali Al Khoury, Director General of Emirates ID, said the authority has submitted an official application to the World Record Academy to recognize this record. Asked about the confirmation of the authority's claims about the world record, an official spokesman of the authority told Gulf News on Sunday: 'We have made worldwide surveys and inquiries with the similar official authorities and agencies of the world governments holding such databases and confirmed that our database is the largest. The World Record Academy also confirmed to us that no other government or authority has made a similar claim for such a record,' he said."

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82 comments

And they're proud of this because....? (3, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#41660465)

Ok...this is a bragging rights type thing somehow??

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (2)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41660609)

No one told them that bigger isn't always better.

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41660633)

In this case, it's also not just the size that counts, but also how they use it.

This is multiculturalism in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666337)

In other words : large numbers of people don't just do things considered wrong, disgusting, or otherwise unacceptable in your culture. Your cherished values do not extend beyond a small minority of humans. Sometimes these cultures' members, they're actually proud of this.

If you want to be really, really clear on the subject (but fair warning, you can't erase knowledge once you have it), you can look up why arabic has a word that is generally translated as "thighing", and whether or not it's halal (bonus points for checking the Iranian viewpoint on the matter, and age limits. You might use the search term Khomeini).

You see, differences between cultures go further than clothes and food.

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (0)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 2 years ago | (#41660775)

Would your wife agree to that? Poor her. };>

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#41661345)

They seem to like bigger because they can. At least that's what it looks like to the outside observer.

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (4, Informative)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | about 2 years ago | (#41660621)

Not to mention, It seems it's completely NOT the largest.

http://www.infowars.com/indias-gargantuan-biometric-database-raises-big-questions/ [infowars.com]

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41661585)

Gotta go with Facebook and facial recognition [nbcnews.com] software for the win.

One. Billion. Users.

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41660893)

UAE has best Biometric Database in world. All other countries' Biometic Databases are inferior.

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (1)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41660939)

They make themselves look like little kids bragging about who's got the biggest lollypop. Don't grown-ups know they shouldn't do this? Are we supposed to be impressed because they've done a questionable thing in a big way? Clearly, I am not culturally sensitive and the diversity training I took at the Big Yellow Box has failed.

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#41661009)

I wonder if they should have stepped back and thought WWTPD....

(What Would The Prophet Do)

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (1, Funny)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#41661363)

Since "declare holy war" is high up on the list, let's not give them any ideas.

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (3, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#41660967)

Ok...this is a bragging rights type thing somehow??

Most telling is that they seem to think so... It's akin to vying for the title of "world's largest landfill", it sounds too much like a story from The Onion.

Do we know tha the "Emirs" are stable? (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#41661031)

If this data got in the wrong hands, it could be a HUGE boon to identity theft syndicates. What if UAE undergoes its own "Arab Spring" coup to overthrow the hereditary "Emirs" who run the country? How do we know if all this data they have is secure? How many thousands of fake passports could be made by using this data, giving middle eastern extremists easy access to international travel?

Re:Do we know tha the "Emirs" are stable? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#41661377)

If that were to happen, you can bet their passports would suddenly no longer be accepted until a solution was found.

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 years ago | (#41661813)

Please mod parent up. This was my exact reaction.

Re:And they're proud of this because....? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663143)

Apparently. They have (rounding up) about 7 fingers per face, that's an amazing average for their citizens, as I was expecting they'd have 10 fingers.

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41660475)

I am making a meatza tonight

Not something to brag about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41660477)

At least they didn't win the world record for most 1984-like regime.

Re:Not something to brag about (1)

N!k0N (883435) | about 2 years ago | (#41660701)

At least they didn't win the world record for most 1984-like regime.

The Thought Police will be formed shortly...

Haha (4, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#41660497)

no other government or authority has made a similar claim for such a record

Other governments, that may be sued for doing this, are just not advertising their databases.

Re:Haha (1, Interesting)

aralin (107264) | about 2 years ago | (#41660771)

US will fingerprint and photograph every single person crossing its borders. Either all the travel is done by a small group of people, or more likely their database is much, much larger than UAE. Definitely the facial recognition records, but very likely also on the fingerprints.

Re:Haha (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#41661379)

US will fingerprint and photograph every single person crossing its borders.

No kidding? Apparently I missed that when I re-entered the U.S. two days ago, but I'm sure they must be doing it at every other border point in the U.S.. Or maybe they just overlooked me in the crowd? After all, there were hundreds of us lined up with customs declaration forms and passports ready to show...though, now that I think of it, none of them were getting fingerprinted or photographed either. Nor have I ever been fingerprinted in my entire life, now that I think of it. How very odd that I seem to have missed out on it every time I've crossed the U.S. border.

That said, considering how many people have been booked for criminal offenses in the U.S. over the years, it wouldn't surprise me if it did have a larger biometric database, though that wouldn't exactly be a bragging point.

Re:Haha (3, Informative)

anarcobra (1551067) | about 2 years ago | (#41661643)

The USA fingerprints every foreigner entering the country (at least at airports).
This policy is nothing new, and has been in place for some years now.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41661745)

So does Japan. Not the UK though, oddly enough.

Re:Haha (1)

xSquaredAdmin (725927) | about 2 years ago | (#41661887)

Strange, I am a Canadian citizen who flew from Toronto, Canada to California in August and I was not fingerprinted at all. Perhaps it's only people who are from non-NAFTA countries?

Re:Haha (1)

anarcobra (1551067) | about 2 years ago | (#41662057)

I'm not sure.
I'm Dutch and I flew to the USA last year and I was fingerprinted.
So were most of the other people on that flight.

Re:Haha (2)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41662665)

It depends on your visa and the consulate that issued the visa, actually. The aim is not to get your fingerprints when you enter the US, but to verify that you are the person the visa was issued for. The Canadian GP probably never needed a visa, and there was nothing to verify through finger prints.

Re:Haha (1)

JimBobJoe (2758) | about 2 years ago | (#41689513)

It's not dependent on the visa. People from visa waiver nations (such as the UK, Germany, Japan, etc) will still get enrolled into US-VISIT (the photograph/fingerprinting system.)

Canadians have a special exemption.

Re:Haha (2)

isorox (205688) | about 2 years ago | (#41663175)

Strange, I am a Canadian citizen who flew from Toronto, Canada to California in August and I was not fingerprinted at all. Perhaps it's only people who are from non-NAFTA countries?

You'd have cleared US immigration in Toronto, didn't you get scanned there?

This year, as a UK passport holder, I've travelled to India, Russia, Israel, Gaza, St Lucia, Indonsedia, Singapore, The U.S, UK, various european countries, and probably a couple of other places I've forgotten.

Only the U.S. takes my fingerprints.

Re:Haha (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 2 years ago | (#41664235)

Canada is exempt because if every Canadian had to be fingerprinted at the land crossings the border (and hundreds of billions in commerce) would screech to a halt.

Not sure about Mexicans.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663381)

As far as I know all non US citizens are fingerprinted when entering the country for the first time. I took my family (we are Australians) to the US for a holiday two years ago and even my teenage children had fingerprint scans at LAX before being allowed to enter the terminal from the aircraft. Those will be stored forever. On the same trip we were stopped on a highway near White Sands, NM and had to show our passports to the border patrol officers before being allowed to continue on our way. Home of the free... maybe not any more. We had a great holiday but these things seemed odd. No American tourist entering Australia is told they must have fingerprint scans or would be stopped randomly on a highway for ID.

GP is correct (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 2 years ago | (#41664223)

The GP is correct. On entering the US, only Americans and Canadians can skip the fingerprints. It's been this way for at least a few years. You need to get out of your bubble.

Re:GP is correct (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#41664261)

Perhaps the GP needs to not make overgeneralizations that are incorrect instead? That was kinda my point.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665303)

If you walked through a checkpoint at the border: you were photographed/recorded.

Re:Haha (1)

skegg (666571) | about 2 years ago | (#41663625)

Other governments, that may be sued for doing this, are just not advertising their databases.

Very true. With a population of ~22 million, Australia would have to have about the same number (15 million?) digital facial recognition records.
Every driver's licence carries a clear photo of the holder.

On a side-topic, bars and pubs are increasingly installing ID scanners as a condition of entry [smh.com.au] . The 2 reasons they float are (i) so that if there is ever any trouble they can link poor-CCTV footage to a high-quality licence photo (and identity); and (ii) so that if you're banned from one bar/pub you can't enter another.

Of course, the information collected will never be used for any other purpose.

Sure. You win. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41660519)

But in reality i'd guess the usa or uk was actually the real 'winner' here.

Most likely the usa.. they have data on most of the people in the world plus what they have on their own citizens.

Oh great (5, Insightful)

mr1911 (1942298) | about 2 years ago | (#41660523)

Now the Dept. of Homeland Security will think it is a contest. More rights violations in 3, 2, ...

Re:Oh great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41662537)

Governments violate (actual, negative) Rights in many ways, but privacy is not a right. You can't force someone to forget. With an explicit prior contractual obligation you may punish someone for retaining or sharing your secrets, but you can't punish people who are not party to that contract. Once something leaks, it's leaked. As technology advances, secrecy will become an ever-greater luxury. In a government-dominated world this would of course enable greater forms of tyranny, but that is a problem of centralized government, not of technology, security, or data proliferation.

--libman

Re:Oh great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665567)

Sorry to be AC on this, but I must express my most sincere agreement on this. This need to be modded up! He speaks the truth!

Privacy for something that is published on a public website, database, or just physically out in the public can't be withdrawn and expect the public to *not* make copies of it. It's not realistic.

Re:Oh great (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 2 years ago | (#41667333)

(Replying to undo incorrect moderation.)

Re:Oh great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41722745)

It's not even a contest. The DHS US-VISIT program has over 140M searchable identities on file and many more times of that in non-searchable (verify only) fingerprint and face images. That said, the India UIDAI has a much larger searchable set and it's growing very quickly.

I knew it! (4, Funny)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41660533)

I KNEW those amiga fanbois were up to something! All this time their precious UAE was silently gathering damning personal biometric information on their users, hoping to shame them away from PCs running windows, MacOS and Linux!

Wait.. what? United Arab Emerates? Not Ubiqutious Amiga Emulator?

Wait, what? Nothing to do with amiga users at all? Sir, do you know what site this is!? Honestly, what is this world coming to!

[Note for the humor deprived: there has been so much bullshit pertaining to the middle east lately that I felt some humor was warranted. Deal with it.]

Re:I knew it! (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#41661407)

If only the region learned to laugh without it being because we keep paying them...

Re:I knew it! (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 2 years ago | (#41662407)

Careful with that, they tend to riot whenever people poke fun at them.

Re:I knew it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665609)

Over 100 million biometric database entries on a 7.5Mhz Motorola 68000 with 512KB of RAM? Only AMIGA makes it possible!

Re:I knew it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41669769)

I thought UAE was Unrecoverable Application Error, which MS got rid of by renaming it to something else.

...good for you, yours is bigger (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41660563)

But seriously, why would they think that any serious organization that had such a database (like the NSA, for example) would bother registering it with the "The World Record Academy"? A database like that is supposed to be used for something. Simply being the biggest is no more impressive than the biggest ball of twine in the world. I'd be much more interested if it was the fastest, because scanning a database that large for biometric matches is probably not going to be easy.

This "news" just sounds like someone is hungry for attention.

Who reports this stuff? (2)

NinjaTekNeeks (817385) | about 2 years ago | (#41660573)

I doubt they have China or the US beat. Hell, I'd venture the Casino's in Macau or Las Vegas even have that beat. They just don't report it because an accolade like a world record in this field is useless and frankly not earning you any high fives from the public either.

Let's break their record. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41660715)

It shouldn't be too hard. Get just one digital fingerprint and one facial recognition record, then copy each 105 million times. That should work since by their own counting, multiples count.

The race to Big Brother State is off and running (1)

logicassasin (318009) | about 2 years ago | (#41660779)

At some point the light should go off in everyone's head to see where governments are going with this. It'll probably be too late, but at least we will realize what happened... But then what?

Re:The race to Big Brother State is off and runnin (1)

lennier (44736) | about 2 years ago | (#41663897)

At some point the light should go off in everyone's head

... because they'd left their mind open, but now it's safely closed again?

Records are not intrinsically good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41660911)

Much like the record for obesity, per capita incarceration, total number of CCTV cameras, and other such records, this is not necessarily something to be proud of.

Cue the PR people to turn this into a competition of national pride.

How useful are your fingerprints? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41660917)

How useful are your fingerprints once they've cut your hand off?

The 3 best groups to scam (2, Interesting)

feedayeen (1322473) | about 2 years ago | (#41660935)

Professional athletes, those who've inherited their fortune, and Saudi royalty:

Athletes earned their wealth by virtue of a genetic lottery and countless hours of physical training.
Those who've inherited 'old money' have never struggled in their lives and often live in a bubble.
The Saudi royalty just dug a hole in the ground and discovered a gold mine.

I think somebody just offered to sell them, 'THE WORLD'S LARGEST biometric database' and somebody said sure, I don't have one of those.

Re:The 3 best groups to scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664777)

The article is about UAE, not Saudi.

Only a statist would be proud of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41660973)

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statism.

This is not something to be celebrated.

A dubious distinction (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 2 years ago | (#41661011)

Kind of a dubious distinction. Like having the world record for number of gulags, or something.

Re:A dubious distinction (2)

xtal (49134) | about 2 years ago | (#41663247)

or largest number of people locked up, say..

Re:A dubious distinction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41671825)

Yup. Another shithole country to add to my list of places to never visit, not even to change flights.

Oh, wait, it's already been added for this [bbc.co.uk] .

There's a reason (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#41661017)

The UAE's native population is vastly outnumbered by imported workers.

There's about 1 million natives and about 7 million foreigners.
A small fraction of those 7 million foreigners are white collar, with the rest being cheap labor

Almost all of the labor force is male and the government was scared shitless the last time the workers got upset and started striking.
It's no surprise that they want to build a database of the immigrant workers.

Re:There's a reason (2)

ilguido (1704434) | about 2 years ago | (#41661625)

Don't amass millions of quasi-slaves then.

Population is only 8 million (2)

robot5x (1035276) | about 2 years ago | (#41661091)

Without wishing to collude in this gigantic one-upmanship-fest...

Total population of UAE is around 8 million (estimate - 2005 census it was actually 4 million).

TFA specifically says the records are UAE residents so we aren't talking about huge numbers of transiting air passengers or tourists.

So - how the hell do these numbers add up? If there are now 102 million fingerprint records, has every resident been digitally fingerprinted 12 times?? If there are 15 million facial records, has every resident in the country been imaged twice on average???

If all this is true, UAE should be commended not for the size of their gigantic database, but for a logistical and planning operation on a par with the holocaust.

Re:Population is only 8 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41661327)

If there are now 102 million fingerprint records, has every resident been digitally fingerprinted 12 times?? If there are 15 million facial records, has every resident in the country been imaged twice on average???

If all this is true, UAE should be commended not for the size of their gigantic database, but for a logistical and planning operation on a par with the holocaust.

I cite Godwin and as a German I wish to point out we only processed individuals at most one time.

Re:Population is only 8 million (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 years ago | (#41661493)

Don't you think it's a bit early for a holocaust comparison?

not even close (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41661335)

Facebook has them beat by about 1 billion people.

USA must have more... (1)

idji (984038) | about 2 years ago | (#41661499)

Far more than 32 million foreigners enter the USA every year wiki [wikipedia.org] , and they take digital photos and fingerprints.

Beauty is in the Eyescan of the Beholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41661579)

Dr. Al Khouri said... the database will contribute to the security and advancement of society, as well as supporting personal identity... on the internet.

As if anyone with a Smarphone isn't already engaged in providing such information to private and governmental databases throughout Western societies. And it's not just the imediacy of your 'identity' that's the target. We're actively engaged in analyzing people's behavioral profiles, not solely as they relate to your trustworthiness as a business risk but as a 'stable' part of society.

I think it's time to update the definition of Civil Engineering.

Run Mr. Anderton, run!!

How to size a biometric DB, EUA not the largest! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41661791)

In Mexico, the IFE (electoral office) has 40 millions fingerprints records with two fingerprints per person, so it's 80M fingerprints. Also the IFE have 90M face mugshot - there is a delta of 50M person with only face mugshot and no fingerprint. EUA as a population of less than 10M persons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Arab_Emirates) and they take a tenprint for ID and passport (plus iris - burka situation!), add the foreing resident and workers, you reach the +100M fingerprint (100 fingerprints / 10 fingerprints per person = 10M individual records). The FBI as today have more than 80M tenprint records (criminals of course, and all background checks, school teachers, federal government employees....) - do the math!!!

na na naaa na na (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41661849)

you don't got me suckers

Clearly a false claim (1)

aglider (2435074) | about 2 years ago | (#41662431)

The Chinese government has a database which is larger by 1 order of magnitude.
It's only that none knows anything about it.

Welcome to the UAE (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 2 years ago | (#41662445)

Mr. Yamamoto

Anti tourism tactics (1)

epSos-de (2741969) | about 2 years ago | (#41663287)

Someone should tell him that the people are actually interested in privacy. He sounds like a pervert who is bragging about his collection of secret photos that he took from a safe distance.

Correlates with slow passport control at Dubai (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663347)

One thing is for sure. The facial scanning recognition system that they have in place has made Dubai one of the slowest airports in the world for arrivals. It isn't that the queues are insanely long, it is that the process is insanely slow. It is so bad now (I travelled through Dubai twice last month) that I will seriously reconsider whether I should continue to make stopovers there.

UAE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41663537)

Why would an amiga emulater keep dna records?

A dangerous database (2)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about 2 years ago | (#41664249)

Some time back, a major Internet player - I forget who but it might have been LinkedIn - had a breech where millions of passwords were stolen (I'm sure somebody here can fill in the details).

At first, this breach would only seem to be of concern to people who used that service; their accounts were suddenly vulnerable because their passwords were no longer secret. But this breach had even more wide-spread implications than that; suddenly the black-hats had a new and very powerful tool for cracking other systems: a real-world data-dump of live passwords. This not only improved their "dictionary" for brute-force attacks, but also allowed them to create better rules for their cracking tools on which passwords were more likely to be used, thanks to the information they gleaned from these leaks. Cracking live systems became much easier because their tools could give priority to real-life examples rather than blindly attempting every possible permutation.

Now, the situation with the UAE biometric database is not exactly the same, but a lesson should be learned from the password-breeches of the past few years: the value of the information in those databases is more than simply access to whatever locks they control. It can be used - and will be used - in unexpected ways. I can't say I'm smart enough to guess what those ways are (if I was, I probably wouldn't be posting on slashdot), and whatever new technologies are developed with that information are not necessarily evil. But because it is tied so closely to the identity of real people, that information can be very powerful and very dangerous.

Not only should there be safeguards to ensure this information is only collected by responsible parties, but there need to be protections on this information so it does not get released into the wild. Because you can bet that its not only the (supposedly) white-hats interested in this sort of stuff. WE should not be blindly accepting of biometrics (or indeed, any centralization of vital information on people) simply because of the convenience it adds to our lives; there is probably a cost in the long run.

Whatever (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 2 years ago | (#41664859)

I hope Iran wins the war!

It's not going to save them (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 2 years ago | (#41664901)

Pffffftttt... It's not going to save them from the jihadis . Democracy, not DNA , is the only thing that's going to stop the jihadis from toppling Saudi and the UAE.

Of cource, hereditary absolute monarchists aren't much interested in that fact....

Unrecoverable Application Error? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665273)

Good God, why did they choose a Windows 95 system to house that database?

big (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665829)

A country of superlatives

UAE or UID? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666523)

As per the Indian UID website, the current number of enrollments seem to be
over 200 million, and hence larger than the UAE claim. In UID, each enrollment has
10 fingerprints, 2 irises and one face image. I hope India will not become like UAE
in policing its people. (Ref: http://portal.uidai.gov.in)

India ... UIDAI (1)

lordbyron (38382) | about 2 years ago | (#41668275)

Well they would just be plain wrong. UID has over 250 million people all 10 fingerprints both iris and a facial scan and is growing by almost 1 million per day. So clearly UAE is not looking very hard.

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