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FBI Eyes Multi-Billion Dollar Biometrics Database

Palm prints, iris scans, and facial-recognition data concerns privacy advocates

The FBI's fingerprint database is getting a new look -- and it's expected to include palm prints, iris scans, and facial-recognition images of criminals, terrorists, and foreign visitors to the U.S., according to an Associated Press report.

The agency plans to award a multi-billion dollar contract for the biometric database this week, which would replace its existing Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The Next Generation Identification database is aimed at simplifying data-sharing on terrorists with other agencies around the world and within the U.S., as well as storing more detailed data on known criminals and terrorists.

But due to the more personal nature of this database, privacy advocates say the FBI's new biometric database project must first be vetted by Congress to be sure it doesn't violate citizens' rights. "This system is not ready for prime time," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "Congress must ask tough questions about the impact on the privacy rights of Americans."

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin, which developed and maintains the FBI's existing fingerprint database, and Northrop Grumman and IBM are all competing for the massive contract.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)