The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reached a milestone in the development of their Next Generation Identification (NGI) program and is now implementing the intelligence database in unidentified locales across the country, New Scientist reports in an article this week. The FBI first outlined the project back in 2005, explaining to the Justice Department in an August 2006 document (.pdf) that their new system will eventually serve as an upgrade to the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) that keeps track of citizens with criminal records across America.Keeping track of criminals, huh? First, it doesn't take much to get arrested these days, as Brandon Raub, who was booked for posting political rants on Facebook, will attest. Second, the federal government has made it clear it will use surveillance systems for purposes that far surpass their original functions. The fact that the FBI is implementing the NGI program to "track criminals" won't deter the bureau from using it to track innocent citizens.
But that's not the most frightening part. NGI could become part of a much larger central system that would aggregate personally-identifiable information and correlate that information with the tracking data acquired by the FBI:
The FBI expects the NGI system to include as many as 14 million photographs by the time the project is in full swing in only two years, but the pace of technology and the new connections constantly created by law enforcement agencies could allow for a database that dwarfs that estimate. As RT reported earlier this week, the city of Los Angeles now considers photography in public space “suspicious,” and authorizes LAPD officers to file reports if they have reason to believe a suspect is up to no good. Those reports, which may not necessarily involve any arrests, crimes, charges or even interviews with the suspect, can then be filed, analyzed, stored and shared with federal and local agencies connected across the country to massive data fusion centers. Similarly, live video transmissions from thousands of surveillance cameras across the country are believed to be sent to the same fusion centers as part of TrapWire, a global eye-in-the-sky endeavor that RT first exposed earlier this year.Carnegie Mellon University Professor Alessandro Acquisti expressed his disapproval of the inevitable creation of a central domestic spying system (.pdf) when testifying last year before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on privacy:
The convergence of face recognition, online social networks and data mining has made it possible to use publicly available data and inexpensive technologies to produce sensitive inferences merely starting from an anonymous face.This isn't America. This is insane. Can you say the rise of Skynet?