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FBI Prepares Vast Database of Biometrics

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the left-my-irises-in-my-other-pants dept.

Privacy 152

MacRonin sends us to the Washington Post for a story about the FBI's plans for a large biometric identification database. The Post also has a chart detailing the characteristics of the different methods of identification. We discussed the ethics of a similar situation a few months ago. Quoting the Post: "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."

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biometrics (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792306)

Similar story can be found here [ripway.com] [News] about biometric databases and the government

Sigh (5, Insightful)

Bayoudegradeable (1003768) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792344)

I can't get this ending line out of my head... "He loved Big Brother."

He Loved Big Brother (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792418)

So do I; because I know what Big Brother wants and he's a singualar point of suspicion. Without Big Brother enforcing "the peace", your next door neighbor becomes much more scary. And I have allot of neighbors.

There allot bigger monsters in the world than the US Government, some of them live in your town, some of them live in Iran. If there was no Big Brother, then you'd have to create him.

Re:He Loved Big Brother (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792688)

Hopefully you're trolling, but sadly a lot of people actually believe that.

What they fail to comprehend is that the "criminal" element is just as evenly dispersed among government jobs as among the rest of society. When you create a huge power differential between those holding certain government jobs and the rest of us, you are empowering the criminals on that side as well as the good people on that side.

This is what happens when you try to pre-assign people "goodness" ratings based on what job they hold. You end up with a subset of vastly overpowered criminals (granted power by the laws themselves) and no net decrease in what we commonly regard as criminal behavior (killing, theft, fraud, etc.).

The only sane way to assign arbitrary power to law enforcers is to maintain constant oversight of them, in a circular fashion -- the police watch the citizens, the citizens watch a police oversight body, and the police oversight body watches the police. That we neglect to do this is a serious mistake, and it results in a police force that behaves like it can get away with anything ethical or unethical (and often does).

Re:He Loved Big Brother (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793156)

What they fail to comprehend is that the "criminal" element is just as evenly dispersed among government jobs as among the rest of society.

As a member of the general public, I take umbrage with that statement. I'm convinced that there is a far greater representation of the criminal element in modern government (at least, in "elected" and appointed office) than in the rest of society. The same can be said of the business executive level.

When you create a huge power differential between those holding certain government jobs and the rest of us, you are empowering the criminals on that side

Exactly. And that is what I think attracts people with criminal tendencies to government office and to business executive. The power and potential rewards are so great as to act like a magnet to people with criminal tendencies.

Re:He Loved Big Brother (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793508)

The extreme desire for power over others is a mental disorder. It should be recognized and treated as such.

Re:He Loved Big Brother (1)

ReclusiveGeek (1115223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793896)

...and don't forget that there is little disincentive, especially at the higher levels. seriously, how much real pain is there for someone in a position of power whose greatest punishment is to be sent packing? you or i can jaywalk and be penalized out of all proportion, yet those higher on the political food-chain can use/abuse their power and get off without much (if any) material repurcussion. things are severely out of balance.

Sure... (1)

SideshowBob (82333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794210)

Yeah, it's only *those people*, the criminals, the other, that we want to deny their rights. If you are innocent then you have nothing to fear.

Re:Sigh (3, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792492)

I think the FBI simply wants a bigger haystack :)

It really amazes me how everybody seems to think that more information is key, whereas I think that *better* information is key. Datamining really is an advanced way of searching for the needle in that haystack and if you throw tons of non-relevant data in there you've just made your job that much harder. The big trick is to try to increase the quality of the data without missing important bits. Trawling all the grandmothers credit card transactions is not going to increase the S/N ratio.

Re:Sigh (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792644)

From the story:

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.

Orwell was an optimist. The slide into complete loss of privacy, personal liberties, and any chance at atonement for making mistakes, intentional or otherwise, is far more insidious then he ever dreamed — and it is going to be far more complete than he imagined. Our country stands for nothing; we are powerless to change anything; the politicians and their lapdog agencies run rampant. I am ashamed.

From your post:

if you throw tons of non-relevant data in there you've just made your job that much harder.

The data is relevant, don't kid yourself. Your retina print, fingerprints, blood type, genetic details... what tracking these things in this way really means is a profound hardening of classes; felons will always be felons, that time you got caught throwing toilet paper on the courthouse will never, ever come off your record, your political affiliations in college will always, always constrain your future job opportunities and more.

A society that cannot forgive is a society that is lost, as far as I am concerned. A society that marks people specifically so that it can class them has reached the approximate social level of pond scum. There is little - if any - difference between the stars the Jews were forced to wear and a database that marks an individual for an infraction they have long ago atoned for. If the thesis is that one can never atone for an error, mis-step or intentional antisocial act, then it is flawed to begin with.

None of which will stop, or even slow down, this trend. When every liberty is up for trading in return for a claim of improved security, when every freedom is deemed too risky to the body politic, when every over-stated threat causes the public to whimper and keep their children locked inside, the Rubicon has well and truly been crossed. Felons! Terrorists! Pedophiles! Pornography! Drugs! None of these "threats" do a fraction of the damage as the "solutions" America has come to, and is working towards.

Orwell was indeed an optimist.

Re:Sigh (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792778)

Great post. Now go watch your Two Minute Hate.

Re:Sigh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792788)

I seriously disagree with you statement. [dwarfurl.com] Most of what you said is bullsh*t.

A way out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792820)

There is only one way out: make everyone a criminal. It only takes one virus spamming random threats to random notables and half the population will soon be considered a dangerous terrorist threat, thereby overflowing the system resources.

Re:Sigh (0, Offtopic)

paulmer2003 (922657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792832)

Want change? Vote Ron Paul in the republican nomination.

Re:Sigh (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792920)

Want change? Vote Ron Paul in the republican nomination.

Assuming he can be elected - which is a stretch - having gotten to the post, he'll be able to end the Iraq war. He'll be able to modify a fair amount of our foreign policy, this is an area that a president has a fair amount of autonomy in. However, with a comprised-as-usual congress and senate, most of the rest of the effect he will be able to have will consist of fireside chats with the public; even vetos will be easily defeated by politicians - on both sides of the aisle - he has little or nothing in common with.

Mind you, I'm voting for Paul, though there are significant planks in his platform I disagree with. This is because overall, he is the most honest and the closest to what I see as the original spirit of the country. However, because of the above, I have absolutely no fear that the area I disagree with him the most on - healthcare - will be in any way affected by his being president. The words "lame duck" don't even begin to describe what I think a Paul presidency would reflect. Good for healthcare; bad for everything else.

Re:Sigh (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793424)

Yeah, a Republican's the answer to this problem, sure enough. Where do I sign up?

Re:Sigh (3, Insightful)

BornAgainSlakr (1007419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793742)

Please stop with the Ron Paul crap. The only thing I can figure about the Ron Paul fascination is that he is different and that is how far the bar has been lowered. He is not John Jackson or Jack Johnson (to quote Futurama), so people are flocking to him. The problem is, he is a die hard libertarian and naive to boot. Someone who believes that the government should be sold off in a fire sale because corporations with a profit-motive can provide those services cheaper and better is naive at best. Not that there are not instances where that is true, but just saying, as he as said on national TV, that profit-motive fixes everything is ridiculous. Now, surely he would not be able to enact even a mere fraction of his beliefs, but just having another four years with someone as naive as Bush scares me.

Besides, I am not sure why anyone believes that there is a candidate that can bring about real change. Real change needs to start with things like amending the Constitution to put term limits on Congress, or all elected officials for that matter. Power corrupts always, and those people have to be rotated out before we will see change. The problem there is: good luck getting Congress to start the ball rolling on that one.

Re:Sigh (2, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794032)

I disagree, I think real change will start with something very simple, no more campaign financing by corporations. Not a cent. Government for the PEOPLE.

Re:Sigh (1)

Mex (191941) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792852)

The problem with all this information is that you don't know who is behind it, and who is controlling it.

It's a big disappointment to me how the USA has gone on from a sort of example for the rest of the world, to becoming more and more like Russia in the 80's.

Re:Sigh (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792862)

its just shows, yet again, thats it not big brother government thats to worry about, its big brother corp thats the problem...

Re:Sigh (3, Informative)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793274)

Well said, Good Citizen fyngyrz, well said.

It is interesting to note that Total Information Awareness (TIA) components were well underway long before the events of 9/11/01 in America. Whether the FBI renames Carnivore to something else, the way the TIA was stealthily renamed and distributed (the illegal wiretapping of the nation within the first month of the Bush administration, the privatization of intel operations [now spread beyond 70 private contractors with online inputs to the Bushies], the privatization of Comsat leading to the National Applications Office, the final dot in the array - the use of satellites to spy overall on the American citizenry) among a variety of components, with inputs from NSA, NGA, etc., everything is now assembled and in place for TOTAL CONTROL. The Corporate Fascist State has won, end of story.....

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793680)

"The data is relevant, don't kid yourself. Your retina print, fingerprints, blood type, genetic details... what tracking these things in this way really means is a profound hardening of classes; felons will always be felons, that time you got caught throwing toilet paper on the courthouse will never, ever come off your record, your political affiliations in college will always, always constrain your future job opportunities and more." It seems to me that you are fear-mongering right there. How can you be so sure that one's political affiliations "will always, always" have an impact on their life? To use such strong words one needs facts, and I am really sorry, but you don't have any. What's even worse, you base your argument upon speculation, which most of the time includes gross oversimplifications of societal matters. It is absurd to think that there is one unified entity which works toward a certain goal, and that entity includes everyone that is in charge of anything important for a society. (important as in government agencies, the evil corporations etc.) Oh yeah, I almost forgot one thing. "Orwell was indeed an optimist." I mean, come on.

Somehwat scary (2, Insightful)

proudfoot (1096177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792358)

This is definitely something scary. Many employers might require you to hand over your prints to the FBI - but at the same time, you don't exactly want government to have everything on you if haven't committed a crime. Wasn't their a bill which was designed to prohibit enforceable gathering of biometric data by employers?

Re:Somehwat scary (2)

dkarma (985926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793000)

My thoughts exactly I really thought there were laws to prevent employers from discovering non conviction arrests or mere accusations.
In fact in states where public access of criminal records is available online they have specific disclaimers on the sites specifically stating that employers may NOT discriminate on the basis of the information found within non-conviction entries.

Basically you have the right to not be discriminated against by your employer for simply being charged with a crime much less merely being arrested.

These are troubling times indeed.

Fingerprint retention (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792360)

The FBI already retains fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks, at least for companies registered with the SEC. What may be new is the retention for other employers.

Re:Fingerprint retention (3, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792664)

The FBI already retains fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks, at least for companies registered with the SEC.

That doesn't make it right.

This is disturbing (5, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792362)

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.

You can get arrested for anything these days and now the FBI is going to become your employers watchdog? I've seen some dickish, big brother behavior since 9-11 but this tops the suck pyramid.

Re:This is disturbing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792488)

Don't you just love the concept of a business -- such as the FBI -- holding the special right to take your money by force, which they redistribute to a private contractor developing tools to take away even more of your rights?

That's government in a nutshell. Aren't you glad that somebody knows better how to spend your money than you do?

Re:This is disturbing (3, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792548)

Yeah, and if you're arrested by mistake or acquitted after trial, no one will care. They'll just see some entry in the FBIs database and assume the worst. I think there should be some way that someone who's been falsely accused to get some compensation for not being able to work ever again. Let's face it, if you have any sort of criminal record - true or false - you can never get a job, loan, etc... your life is in effect ruined. And this database will make that much easier for it to be done.

Re:This is disturbing (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792836)

The thing is, this is less about national security than it is about risk avoidance.

Companies that do business with people, and organizations that hire people, wish to avoid risk. In principle, this is just an extension of the way the American credit system works. There, your entire financial history is available to anyone that wants to decide if you can be trusted. It used to be, the deadbeat customer was a normal cost of doing business. In today's world, companies large and small have the credit bureaus to track us for them. However, at least there if you keep your nose clean and wait enough years, your past misdeeds will no longer haunt you. Expect that limit to be removed at some point, because obviously people that can't handle money well are threats to national security.

Make no mistake, the underlying sponsors of this unConstitutional boloney are corporate. From the extension of copyrights to longer credit histories to biometric tracking, this is all about the corporate world wanting to minimize its exposure to risk. The fact that it plays right into the hands of certain power hungry politicians and their appointed/unelected officials is just unfortunate for us.

Re:This is disturbing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792640)

You can get arrested for anything these days and now the FBI is going to become your employers watchdog? I've seen some dickish, big brother behavior since 9-11 but this tops the suck pyramid.

Well just like freedom of speech proponents say that I can change the channel if I don't like the filth on TV, you don't have to stick with an employer, or start working for one, who partakes in this capability. Having a hard time finding an employer who doesn't partake in this? I find it hard to find a TV channel I feel comfortable watching without seeing nudity and various levels of blasphemy.

Re:This is disturbing (-1, Flamebait)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793722)

+1, Sad but True.

Whoever modded the parent as a troll is a retard.

Fascism ? Or not ? (2)

aepervius (535155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793108)

Isn't this a classic definition of fascism ? I mean the government being a puppet of firm & corporation ? Because if I read that right, this more or less means the FBI suddenly become a special police specifically helping policing employee of corporation... I could be wrong on the definition, though...

equal right to see your bosses' records? (2, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793242)

Would this mean you can also see when your boss gets hauled up - even if no charges are brought, or he/she is acquitted?

First of all, it'll allow you to see, at the interview stage, if you'll be working for a bunch of crooks.
Second, if companies do start to take "brushes with the law" into account for career advancement, it sounds like a relative in law-enforcement could be the fast track to promotion.

U.S.And them (1)

delire (809063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792382)

Clearly they are getting a headstart by treating all visitors to America as suspects: getting your eyes scanned and both index fingers printed is no kind of "welcome". A few years ago it was a completely different experience.

Re:U.S.And them (2, Informative)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792566)

It's the major reason that I won't travel to the US these days.

I don't want to be treated as a criminal before I've even left airside.

Rgds

Damon

Re:U.S.And them (3, Interesting)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792700)

And this is exactly what bothers me so much about the U.S. government these days. I'm an American, and even though I don't know you I wish you could visit the country without be treated like a dangerous felon.

We (Americans) are really not all bad. As it turns out most of us dislike the current government, too. It's just that, well, we have a fairly large population of over-religious farmers who tend to vote for all the wrong people. And thus sh*t like this is allowed to happen.

What ARE the Alternatives? (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792754)

And this is exactly what bothers me so much about the U.S. government these days. I'm an American, and even though I don't know you I wish you could visit the country without be treated like a dangerous felon.

Well, there is a philosophical conflict raging here. There's obviously people who want to get into the US to perform terrorist acts. This leaves us with 3 choices:

1. Screen every visitor carefully

2. Screen only "suspicious" people (profiling based on religion, etc. and is often considered "racist".)

3. Don't screen anybody, risking attacks

4. Don't allow visitors

I don't see any 5th option, only compromises between these 4. Thus, what are the alternatives and/or ratios of these 4 that you think are the best?

Other countries don't have terrorist problems (yet), and so they don't have to perform intrusive procedures.
       

Re:What ARE the Alternatives? (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792866)

Other countries don't have terrorist problems (yet), and so they don't have to perform intrusive procedures.
Are you joking?

Re:What ARE the Alternatives? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792900)

[Other countries don't have terrorist problems (yet), and so they don't have to perform intrusive procedures.] Are you joking?

I mis-stated my thought. Thanks for pointing this out. It should have been more like:

"Perhaps you are used to countries that don't (yet) have a terrorist problem, and thus have less intrusive inspections."
       

Re:What ARE the Alternatives? (3, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792880)

Other countries don't have terrorist problems (yet), and so they don't have to perform intrusive procedures.

Under what rock have you been living?

I am not convinced that we are any less safe now then we were a decade or so ago, just much more paranoid. It really says something when a nation of immigrants is deceived into thinking they need to bar foreigners.

Re:What ARE the Alternatives? (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792902)

Sorry,

..less safe now than we were a decade or so ago...

I was typing in a bit of a hurry.

Re:What ARE the Alternatives? (correction) (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792926)

Correction: I stated I listed 3, but there's really 4. (That's what happens when English does not support array max index size variables and you have to hard-wire the upper bounds :-)

Re:What ARE the Alternatives? (2, Interesting)

garry_g (106621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793048)

Quote: Other countries don't have terrorist problems (yet), and so they don't have to perform intrusive procedures.

Well, there's a gap between reality and politicians' view of this issue ... Take for example Germany - our minister of internal affairs keeps insisting in the terrorist threat, calling for impressive plans of data retention, which is NOT directed against any foreign travelers, but the WHOLE of German inhabitants ...

How afraid do you have to be???

Re:What ARE the Alternatives? (4, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793364)

A philosophical conflict? How about a conflict of overdramatized, highly unlikely fearmongering juxtaposed against the loss of civil liberties? The latter seems to be the specific problem.

Living freely includes risk. The problem here is that many people have little or no understanding of the freedoms they had, how hard they were fought for and how unusual it is that they had them in the first place. Most troubling is the fact that they had no clue how easy it was to lose them, and now that they have been lost, recovery is much, much more difficult.

As far as I am concerned, when a criminal - be they terrorist, mugger or politician disobeying the constitution - commits an antisocial act, that criminal should be held accountable for that crime. If the crime is large, the accounting should be large. If society can accept that the crime has been atoned for, then the criminal should get a fresh start. If society cannot accept this, then the criminal should be either put to death or imprisoned permanently. In no case should bystanders or citizens not even involved on any level be inconvenienced by actions nominally taken to ameliorate the criminal act. Sure, this approach involves risk. I prefer the risk. We are a better people when we accept risk in exchange for liberty than when we trade liberty for any illusion of safety gained by treating everyone as if they were a potential criminal.

Your option three is the only honorable option.

Re:What ARE the Alternatives? (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793626)

Over here in the United Kingdom we've had terrorist problems since the 1970s. We've also had a few attacks in the past few years, and the police and security services claim to have prevented several more. We don't fingerprint and iris scan visitors as a matter of course.

Re:U.S.And them (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792770)

Hi,

Don't worry, I can tell the difference between individual Americans and the US govt!

My major client is a large US investment bank and has been for over a decade. American individuals and corporations are fine (well I guess I've met a few bad ones, but in fact mainly of non-US origin strangely), but the 'security theatre' rhetoric of marking all foreigners as potential rapists^Wterrorists is just stupid and pisses off natural friends of the US.

No, I don't trust our (UK) govt with all my sensitive data either: some of ours was amongst the 25 million records recently 'mislaid'...

Rgds

Damon

Re:U.S.And them (4, Insightful)

cooley (261024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793050)

It's just that, well, we have a fairly large population of over-religious farmers who tend to vote for all the wrong people.
That's funny, every demographic I've ever seen says that between 1 and 2 percent of the US population either lives on a farm or considers farming their occupation. One to two percent of the population has very little sway over the outcome of our national elections.

You go ahead and keep telling yourself that "it's some farmer in the midwest" screwing it all up, though; especially the next time you drive through Florida.

Right now on the US National political scene, it would seem that the default "heir" to the Bush/Cheney ideology of fear is Rudolph Giuliani. What city was he mayor of, again? Are there a lot of farmers living in Manhattan?

Oh wait, I must have been confused; it's Illinois where a lot of farmers live, and their state has given us Senator Obama in the Presidential contender line-up.

Please, if you're going to generalize about the American population, try to generalize in a way that makes sense. Here you're telling our foreign friend "hey look, we Americans are cooler than we might appear", yet then you generalize about "farmers". Nice.

Re:U.S.And them (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793734)

I second that!

I live in a suburban area, and work in a high tech field, and know very few people who revealed their political feelings in the last 2 presidential elections that did NOT vote for Bush. I'd say I probably know 50 people who revealed their political leanings, and 48 were for Bush.

None are farmers.

Re:U.S.And them (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794152)

That's funny, every demographic I've ever seen says that between 1 and 2 percent of the US population either lives on a farm or considers farming their occupation. One to two percent of the population has very little sway over the outcome of our national elections.

Allow me to add to your merriment with the following Two Fun Facts:

1. The majority of Slashdot users are American born.
2. The majority of those born in the US and of voting age do not understand their voting system.

For anyone following along and wishes to know more about voting system in the US, the Wiki article on Electoral College [wikipedia.org] should help. The following is a brief but relevant excerpt:

Favors less populous states

As well as to give more voting power to citizens of less populated states, the electoral college gives disproportionate power to those state interests as well. This can further correspond with national political control, since most states tend to go either Republican or Democrat, and the less populous states tending toward the former. Democrats often complain for this reason that the electoral college favors the Republican party, by boosting the electoral weight of Republican states.

Obviously, the elections business is a complex one, irrespective of what part you want to argue about, but the OP's quip of over-religeous farmers remains, for good or worse, valid, and your comments about population densities aren't directly relevant.

Re:U.S.And them (1)

apparently (756613) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793610)

The solution to the over-religious farmer problem is to focus on enabling voters. Designating election day as a national holiday is an obvious and easy start, but even then, poorer counties seem to always encounter longer lines of people wanting, yet not getting to vote. If the progressives could build a movement around enabling voters, they would certainly gain on the number of voters controlled by the religious right.

Re:U.S.And them (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792824)

This, [eggmann.blog.is] while maybe exageratted(probably not, but I have to give the benefit of the doubt as this is just a one sided view) makes me very sad to live here. The spirit of the law is a dream of the past.

How the... (2, Funny)

Unlikely_Hero (900172) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792404)

How am I supposed to try and keep my irises private if they can be read without my knowledge?!
What am I supposed to do? Get tin-foil-sunglasses?

Re:How the... (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792460)

Naw, just cut out your eyes and burn the remanants.

Problem solved! (well, except for the whole "I'm blind!" thing...)

Exabytes of RAM ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792422)

... in another story today someone made the '+5 insightful' proposition that a 64bit OS could address 'enough' memory during 'our lifetime' [slashdot.org] . Well, figure it.

CC.

Haven't you guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792432)

Haven't you guys read 1984 or Brave New World? Be thankful that is not the world we live in today!

Re:Haven't you guys... (2)

hack slash (1064002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792510)

"Haven't you guys read 1984 or Brave New World? Be thankful that is not the world we live in today!"

It's tomorrow that people are more concerned about.

Re:Haven't you guys... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792840)

Haven't you guys read 1984 or Brave New World? Be thankful that is not the world we live in today!

No, more like ...
A.E. van Vogt, Computerworld, 1983 (... the story of our world under the cold and emotionless eye of the almighty computers ...(not brilliant, but rather anticipatory and fits in here))

CC.

Re:Haven't you guys... (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792944)

(... the story of our world under the cold and emotionless eye of the almighty computers ...(not brilliant, but rather anticipatory and fits in here))

Bah, I am comforted by Bradley's Bromide:

If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee. That will do them in.

I'm going to sell the FBI Phrenology Biometrics! (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792436)

"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"...

It's a great way to profit from the coming federal contracts! It doesn't matter to them that the "Science" was debunked a century ago... We'll dress it up with some new buzzwords and make millions!

Re:I'm going to sell the FBI Phrenology Biometrics (3, Funny)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792740)

and perhaps even the unique ways people walk

So we're going to see the Ministry of Silly Walks?

Re:I'm going to sell the FBI Phrenology Biometrics (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793774)

Actually we're more likely to ee silly walks outlawed.

If you're walking unusually, you must be doing it to throw off the tracking software, and if you're trying to throw off the tracking, then you must be intending to commit a crime, citizen.

I actually worked a bit on some of the theory behind gait recognition when I was a student. Interesting from a technical perspective but scary as hell in terms of what it could be used for. Other than the obvious of course. The classic example of legitimate use is a bank robbery where cctv footage is too low res to make out faces. But it could be used for much more.

This could be good (0, Redundant)

Nomen Publicus (1150725) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792446)

This could be good. It will demonstrate how useless "biometrics" are for identifying an individual from a set of millions. All biometrics used in these identity databases are reduced from actual photographs and measurements and represent lossy compression. As soon as you have lossy compression, you can have many to one mappings that make the usefulness for identity checks limited.

Re:This could be good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792814)

Except that the FBI/Government doesn't CARE that it won't identify a unique individual. It would be nice but not required. Regardless of whether an iris scan or other biometric data search returns one, a hundred, or even thousands of indiviudals they have now identified a group of people to focus more standard police work on instead of millions.

It's as dangerous to assume that biometrics are useless unless they match to only one individual as it is to assume that the group it did matched will contain the individual.

Re:This could be good (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792818)

This could be good. It will demonstrate how useless "biometrics" are for identifying an individual from a set of millions. All biometrics used in these identity databases are reduced from actual photographs and measurements and represent lossy compression. As soon as you have lossy compression, you can have many to one mappings that make the usefulness for identity checks limited.

It is indeed usually futile to do raw searches based on such info, but if you combine multiple factors from other sources (employment history, country of origin, etc.), then even fuzzy info can be used to narrow down the result set. If you narrow the result set small enough, then you can hand it to "on the street" investigators who can manually cull the list further. In short, each piece of info by itself is not enough but used in conjunction with other factors, it can help.

By the way, I wonder what kind of query technology can use a fuzzy "WHERE" clause? In regular SQL, one uses BETWEEN or IN statements to narrow stuff, but I wonder what you do if you want a ranked result instead of an all-or-nothing match. I can envision a system that assigns a rank value, but it would be a sequential process. How does "fuzzy indexing" work? There was an AI project based on SOM's that could possibly use such.
     

This is indeed a big effort (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792454)

10 year contracts are not common for software projects in the federal government. 10 years of engineering and support is a serious undertaking by a major federal agency. Taking this down will require a similarly serious effort if people are serious about pursuing that.

Brushes with the law? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792466)

I use a toothbrush myself. Anyway, does this mean you are suspect if you ever stopped by a cop? So much for this actually being guilty of anything, now it's just if you are even questioned. I'm not sure who's worse, the employers or the gov't. Either way, you all still have a chance to make a change, until after the primaries. Don't lock yourselves in.

What change? (0, Flamebait)

Stoutlimb (143245) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792868)

Change the colour of a pretty graphic on TV from red to blue? That's about the only difference people have the power to effect.

Have fun picking a new jailer.

Silly Citizen... (1)

jon287 (977520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792876)

In the US of A you went from "not a life form of any kind" to "probable terror suspect" on the day you were born!

Re:Brushes with the law? (2, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793300)

``I'm not sure who's worse, the employers or the gov't.''

The gov't, of course. The employers at least pay you money. The gov't _takes_ your money, and then uses it against you!

Re:Brushes with the law? (1)

Unlikely_Hero (900172) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793432)

I think you have the way things should be (free elections) confused with the way things are (rigged elections)

where's my troll mod? (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792496)

you will find that the majority of americans won't be disturbed by this. there are some who will use this as proof that most americans are morons. as if insulting the average citizen is supposed to win you any points in the battle against big/ intrusive government, oh great genius?

no, the average american won't care, because the average american, when given news like this, doesn't see a big downside to this. when told the downside to this as displayed here in some posts, they will think the average slashdot poster has been watching too many paranoid hollywood movies

now give my troll mod for not toeing the party line here

yawn

Sad but true (3, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793058)

The average person will simply think the government is doing more to look out for *them*.

A few false arrests and multi-year imprisonments because of a software bug or flaw in the biometric database? Just the price to be paid for security.

That particular way of thinking sickens me, but it's quite prevalent. Many people (my mother included) would far rather see 10 innocents imprisoned than one guilty man go free. Because they're terrorists or something.

I try to explain that I know have Iranian family on my father's side and next time it could be me that's falsely accused of associating with and aiding people (incorrectly) thought to be terrorists. But that doesn't seem to get through, that there could ever be a mistake. Somewhere in the back of a lot of folks minds there's this strong conviction that mistakes like that just don't happen, despite multiple high profile examples to the contrary, and even if they do, it doesn't matter because they don't think it can happen to them. Because why would it? I'm a good person, why would the government arrest me?

At that point I usually give up trying to argue and go back to mourning the state of the world. No, it doesn't win me any points, realising that the average person is about as questioning of authority as a faithful puppy, it is unfortunately the true state of the world though.

Joe Sixpack sez: (1)

Ardipithecus (985280) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794126)

"I don't do anything wrong, so I have nothing to worry about; this is for the criminals and terrorists"

Well... You have an election coming (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792498)

Just who's the boss?
 

So glad I left (-1, Flamebait)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792508)

I am so glad I left that ridiculous country. Every time I open up the paper they are making some new and practically irreversible change for the worse. Even the traditional mainstay arguments for living there (freedom, strong economy) have withered away. So what's left?

Re:So glad I left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792884)

Not defending this in any way, but I think the "big, scary, Republican USA" angle is an easy way out. Interpol already has a system like this, and the FBI's goes on regardless of administration.

Re:So glad I left (1)

MR.Mic (937158) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793608)

YEAH! Lets all move to Germany or the UK, instead!

Law and order types... (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792516)

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.

That's the thing, mistakes are made and if the Government starts acting like the Dept. of Homeland Security and refuse to show you your file and correct it for "security reasons", basically your life will be fucked because of incompetence or even malice. The "law and order types" are all for it but they just have way too much faith in technology and our Government's ability to act with our best interests and freedom in mind.

The real news (1)

Lewrker (749844) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792628)

will be "FBI merges with Google to form Spoogle or spy.google.com/iBlackmail where you can get ALL the compromising information about anyone in the world for the small price of taking a look at a few ads."

Expect Leadership to change in the next election (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792672)

at the FBI, NSA and CIA. They are trying to get these programs up and running before the changing of the guard.

Bigger and Better Things (1)

richg74 (650636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792774)

I guess since the FBI has previously demonstrated its prowess in implementing technology projects, with (inter alia) the Virtual Case File fiasco, and the SirCam infection of their National Infrastructure Protection Center, it's time for them to move on to a higher level. It's good to know we can still count on the Peter Principle.

creators tracking greed/fear/ego based life0ciders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792810)

we're intending for the deceptive murderous corepirate nazis to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather'.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US;

gov. bush denies health care for the little ones

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

  (yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles;

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Didn't They Shut Down a Similar Database? (1)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21792898)

I thought they shut down a very similar database recently. Upon hearing the news someone here said it would reappear soon enough. True dat.

Re:Didn't They Shut Down a Similar Database? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792990)

The one referenced in the story is simply being upgraded, it had been fingerprints only. It's been running non stop since the Clinton administration.

Sometimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21792962)

I dream of a world where everything was covered in semen

The same FBI..... (2, Interesting)

budword (680846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793026)

The same FBI that couldn't put together an email system in 2 years with a few hundred million bucks. The good news is BIG BROTHER isn't competent, the bad news is that he has no idea he isn't competent. The big problem with that is that he carries a gun, and because the people he deals with on a regular basis are the only people in the world even more brutally stupid than he is, he never figures out he's a little slow. If it can be abused it will be. I bet the false positive ratio will be greater than 1000 to 1 with this baby. It won't catch many, if any, bad guys, but it will result in countless innocent people being "interviewed" by Bubba the $9 an hour security guard at the airport. Good luck with that. Time to leave the USA. The fascists have won.

This will breed a new class of crimes (2, Interesting)

prime_61997851 (1204478) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793124)

Using biometric data is a dangerous road IMHO. If biometric authentication is performed under very tightly controlled conditions then it may be difficult to spoof but the more widespread it becomes the less controlled the conditions will be (the more people involved the higher the chance of stupid people overseeing the process). You can tighten up a server. even Windows (-; so that it is very difficult to penetrate, but when you have billions of I.T. admins running servers you're going to have some loosening of security. See, Dr. Evil was right when he said "Why make billions when we can make ... millions". His stupid son just didn't see the big picture which is why he'll always just be Dr. Evils son.

It may become an arms race between the bio-crackers and the security vendors, just like software viruses. I'm pretty sure people will get retinal transplants if they think it will make them a million dollars USD. You'll have people sitting around in a cubicle talking about how stupid an idea it was for a guy to have a retinal transplant but one will pipe up and say "The guy made a million dollars". Then the guy will "jump to the conclusion" that he should do it, have it botched, go blind, and sue the surgeon for millions. Then he'll have a BBQ in which he'll tell his former co-workers if they just hang in there long enough "good things can happen to them too". But I digress.

The scariest thing I can think of when it comes to biometric security is that it will just lead to an escalation of violent crime. Before cars had security systems the guy would just steal your car when you weren't there. Now he'll pull you out of the car, pistol whip you, shoot your hysterical wife and drive off with your children in the back seat. Maybe it's a flawed correlation but it seems like car jacking took off at the same time as car security systems. Now, instead of stealing your password, he'll cut out your eyes. True story here Malaysia car thieves steal finger [bbc.co.uk]

This database the FBI is building is so large and so open to corruption through GIGO, that it may make for a very scary country indeed.

Maybe the FBI could just hire attractive 21 year old blonde unemployed models and assign one per household to watch over us. Criminals may never want to leave their house.

Re:This will breed a new class of crimes (1)

tqft (619476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793216)

"Maybe the FBI could just hire attractive 21 year old blonde unemployed models and assign one per household to watch over us. Criminals may never want to leave their house"
Where do I sign up?

The problem is that building a massive database is possible.

The disk space and processing requirements are possible. Examples - archive.org and CERN's efforts for data processing on the LHC.

Getting the data is the hard part at the moment.

Maybe the model you suggested taking pictures is the way to go.
[Can I have a redhead instead?]

One good thing about this (1)

e-scetic (1003976) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793284)

Is that you won't need to have bar codes tattooed to your forehead. It's the same thing, minus the ink.

That is, until the people are tagged like cattle currently are. It's only a matter of time. Escape from prison while you still can.

Everyone who voted bush can bite me (0, Troll)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793366)

Who didn't see this coming?

voteronpaul Tag (0, Flamebait)

TrollMaster 9000 (957590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793400)

You morons realize Ron Paul is Stormfront's [stormfront.org] candidate of choice and that Congressman Paul has not only accepted donations from Stormfront but refuses to return the money?

Just thought you'd like to know who you're voting for.

Assholes.

Re:voteronpaul Tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793942)

You trolls don't know what is best for you. You should realize that every single bit of money that helps Ron Paul without hurting someone, is great. This just mean some crazy people have less money, and Ron Paul has more. That's just fantastic!

Re:voteronpaul Tag (2, Insightful)

Leftist Troll (825839) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793946)

Don't worry, the Ron Paul internet zombies have all kinds of talking point rebuttals to that. Some crap about how taking their money is the ultimate insult - maybe someone should tell that to all those industry groups and lobbyists in DC.

I wonder how well it would go over if he took money from radical Islamic fundamentalists.

CheapID- A Secure, Open Src, Private, Biometric ID (2, Informative)

vkg (158234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793482)

There is an open alternative to this kind of biometric snooping: CheapID. It's a digital identity standard, and a protocol for having a court order be required before the police, or other government agencies, could run a biometric search on the Big Database. It enforces that standard by moving the Big Database to an international level, but encrypting the metadata attached to each record - including fields like name - in a way which means the people with access to the database can't *do* anything with it, because there is no information about *people* in the database (like names,) only information about their physical bodies. Data stripped of metadata is largely worthless, and to unstrip an item needs a court decrypt from a national government.

From http://guptaoption.com/4.SIAB-ISA.php [guptaoption.com]

This paper shows how we can manage large scale biometrics databases and increase the amount of privacy we have from government snooping while still having a secure society.

The basic crux of this paper is that you can separate the biometrics database, which simply identifies your physical body, and isn't necessarily any more intrusive than Flickr or any other online photo sharing site, and the reputation database, which stores things like your credit rating, any criminal record, and the suspicions of various government agencies about your intentions.

So when you do something like rent a car, you give them a token which has your face on it. They match your face to the token, and say "ok, this token is valid." But the token doesn't have your name, or your SSN, or anything else on it: it's totally sterile. But if you steal the car, they take the token to court, as well as the proof you gave it to them, and the court uses the token to get your name, SSN and other details.

If all that FBI or other government biometrics database stored was tokens, and it required a court order to go from a match in the biometrics database to a name and street address, I think we'd have a fair balance between civil liberties and security. A database of pictures of faces or fingerprints is not the intrusive part: it's the connecting of your face or your fingerprint to your background that is the intrusion, and we can separate the two databases and require a court order (and a crypto key) to reconnect them.

Cheap DNA scanners are coming. We've have to fix how we handle biometric data as a society before they arrive.

The FBI has my fingerprint (1)

Britz (170620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793692)

I had to go to New York on family business in 2006. The US requires you to leave fingerprints at the airport. And even though it is very easy nowdays to fool fingerprint scanners, I didn't want to risk something like this and be thrown out the country. And since US government agencies are very "open" about their data (any person posing as a business that needs to screen potential employees can get extensive background information), I used to worry about the fact that any idiot can now download my fingerprint and frame me for a crime if they wanted to.

But then again Germany now has biometric passports. So any idiot with a RFID scanner can do the same.

In the end that means that biometric data/security is nothing worth anything anymore. I wonder how long it will take criminal defense lawyers to realize that one.

Re:The FBI has my fingerprint (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793818)

I've just finished some building work on my house. Some of the time I was wearing industrial thickness gloves, and sometimes not. As a result my fingers are now quite rough, with worn parts, small scratches and the like.

If someone was to take my fingerprints now (either with permission or against my will) and record them as "mine", what would be the situation when my hands healed? Would I forever be denied access to me because of the discrepancy, or would there be two me's, with different fingerprints - but otherwise identical.

Should I do more building work (or refrain from it) before I go to the US, or do the border controls send you home if it looks like your fingers have been tampered with?

There's a lot more to this biometric thing than meets the eye

Re:The FBI has my fingerprint (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794020)

The fact that the biometric data is stored on the chip in the passport does not mean it can be accesses or reproduced.

Look at chip credit cards. You cannot retrieve a PIN from them, even though an encrypted and hashed version resides on the chip. You can't even get the hash; just an answer, yes or no, whether what is presented is correct or not. I would presume that any sensible passport scheme would be much the same. Am I wrong?

If you ever meet an FBI agent... (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793952)

Just remember that he works for George W. Bush. Then decide how to treat him.

Re:If you ever meet an FBI agent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794106)

That is a gross over-simplification. If that's your logic, the same goes for hundreds of thousands of military service men and women as well as civil servants at places like the post office.
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