The FBI has been developing a massive biometric database—which includes iris scans, palm prints, DNA information and mug shots—called the the Next Generation Identification System (NGI). The new system will match surveillance images to photos of known criminals to aid agents in identifying and catching suspects. The system, however, which is expected to be fully operational this year, has undergone a radical transformation since the last privacy review back in 2008 and now poses serious privacy and civil liberties concerns for every American.
Today, the Brennan Center and 30 plus privacy and civil liberties groups sent a letter to the DOJ asking for a new audit of the system, specifically to review of the goals of the program to ensure that information collection is solely of individuals who are part of the criminal justice system and does not become a tool for surveillance of innocent Americans.
“The capacity of the FBI to collect and retain information, even on innocent Americans, has grown exponentially,” the letter argues. “It is essential for the American public to have a complete picture of all the programs and authorities the FBI uses to track our daily lives, and an understanding of how those programs affect our civil rights and civil liberties.”