Privacy Implications of the FBI’s Facial Recognition Database

The focus has been on the National Security Agency and its sweeping monitoring and collection of communications. PBS Frontline did a two-part series, and has followed that up with posts on a secret, elite hacking unit, how the NSA can get into your computer and your iPhone. All of that takes place behind the scenes, however. The FBI is more, how to put it…in your face.

Called the Next Generation Identification system, or NGI, it’s designed for multimodal identification of biometric data. That’s a mouth full, but it boils down to the FBI collecting data on what you look like, from the distance between eye brows to the size of your cheeks and other facial characteristics we may bemoan in the mirror, or not even notice. That is enough to give one pause while standing on a street corner, and seeing a security camera, but as guest Jennifer Lyncha senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, explains, NGI has expanded to include finger prints, iris prints, and data will be assigned a universal number. In other words, criminal and non-criminal data will no longer be separated.

While it is easy to see the benefits and fighting crime and terrorism, Lynch makes the case for some pitfalls, including false identification, and a chilling effect on free speech. Listen in to learn what more you need to know.

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