The FBI wants to prevent information about its creepy biometric database, which contains fingerprint, face, iris, and voice scans of millions of Americans, from getting out to the public. The Department of Justice has come up with a proposal to exempt the biometric database from public disclosure. It states that the Next Generation Identification System (NGI) should not be subject to the Privacy Act, which requires federal agencies to give people access to records that have been collected concerning them, “allowing them to verify and correct them if needed.”
The proposal states that allowing individuals to view their own records, or even an account of those records, could compromise criminal investigations or “national security efforts,” potentially reveal a “sensitive investigative techniques,” or provide information that could help a subject “avoid detection or apprehension.”
The database contains biometric information on people who have provided fingerprints to employers, or for licenses and background checks, as well as on convicted criminals and those that have been suspected of wrongdoing even for a short period of time, according to Underground Reporter.
The proposal argues that the FBI should be able to retain the data it has collected on individuals even if they are later found to have done nothing illegal, as the information “may acquire new significance when new details are brought to light.”
The FBI claims the retained data could also be used for “establishing patterns of activity and providing criminal leads.”
Although very little is actually known about the database, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and EPIC have been able to uncover that the FBI would like to track every individual as they move from one location to another. Jeramie Scott, a national security counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told NextGov that the proposal “would set a worrying precedent in which law enforcement has significant leeway to decide what information to collect without informing the subject.”