FBI prepping comprehensive biometric database network

Posted by Washington Post

Clarksburg (WV) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is preparing to collect a vast amount of biometric data, including an individual's characteristics, such as "the way they walk".  The database will eventually be deployed world-wide, allowing law enforcement agencies unprecedented access to uniquely identifying traits.  The 10-year contract will cost taxpayers $1 billion, and is scheduled to be awarded to some lucky contractor next month.

The data being captured includes the existing digital facial images, fingerprints and even entire palm patterns.  It will now expand to include "iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk".  All of these will allow law enforcement authorities around the world to help solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists.

The database being designed is part of the FBI's unofficial "bigger, faster, better" program.  It will augment the existing two football-field, underground, climate-controlled, secure facility in Clarksburg's Appalachian foothills.  Currently, a request for an FBI search reaches their computers every second, with up to 100,000 searches being performed each day.

The FBI currently holds 55 million electronic fingerprints.  900,000 law enforcement agencies of federal, state and local, can query the fingerprint database.  The program eventually hopes to branch out to such an extent that as part of a routine traffic stop, a full 10-finger fingerprint search is run within seconds.  A portable handheld device would collect the prints, wirelessly send the info across a network to a computer that would perform the search.  The results would be known within seconds, and a digital record of that traffic stop is automatically updated in the central computer.

Read more ... Washington Post.