The FBI’s Next Generation Identification Program:


Article by electronic privacy information centre.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is developing a biometric identification database program called “Next Generation Identification” (NGI). When completed, the NGI system will be the largest biometric database in the world. The program is of particular interest to EPIC because of the far-reaching implications for personal privacy and the risks of mass surveillance.

The vast majority of records contained in the NGI database will be of US citizens. The NGI biometric identifiers will include fingerprints, iris scans, DNA profiles, voice identification profiles, palm prints, and photographs. The system will include facial recognition capabilities to analyze collected images. Millions of individuals who are neither criminals nor suspects will be included in the database.

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In the face of such massive state surveillance it might be tempting to give up and embrace total surveillance by everyone of everyone. However this is a misguided approach which fundamentally gives up on the principle of fighting for our rights and holding our representatives to account democratically. The right thing to do with an over reaching state is to use legal and democratic means to roll back the surveillance state. Going out and buying a spy camera in some vain hope that it will restore the balance of power does nothing except normalise the practice of surveillance and make it harder to argue against state intrusion.