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You can stop worrying that the forces of autocracy in America are going to require all of us to carry national identification cards. That’s so old school. Instead of issuing cards, the FBI intends to turn our very own bodies into walking ID systems.
Wielding a billion dollars of our tax money, the agency has embarked on a Big Brotherish, 10-year project to amass the world’s largest computer database containing extensive details of people’s physical characteristics. Fingerprints are the least of the biometric info to be stored in this secure, climate-controlled, underground facility the size of two football fields.
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Located in West Virginia and dubbed “Next Generation Identification,” the system is intended to “fuse” our fingerprint data with our iris patterns, palm prints, earlobe shapes, facial contours and even the unique ways we walk and speak. This fused, digital image of our persons is to be shared with every police agency in the country… as well as agencies abroad.
The goal, according to the director of this unprecedented database, is to give authorities a pool of personal information that is “bigger, faster, better.” Hmmm, those sound like good traits for a football player to have, but in a democracy where people are rightly wary of government snooping, better traits would be “smaller” and “slower.”
If the very existence of this national ID system doesn’t make you worry about your privacy rights, you might want to know about a quiet little change that the FBI made in the management of such databases in 2004. Officials exempted police databases from a Privacy Act requirement that the personal data stored in them has to be accurate.
To keep up with this latest intrusion into our liberties, contact the Electronic Privacy Information Center: www.epic.org.
“FBI plans $1 billion database of identifying features,” Austin American Statesman, December 23, 2007