You Know What Makes New York’s Spy Computer a Little Less Terrifying?

The fact that it’s not run by the FBI. Nationwide. With facial and voice recognition as a core feature.

Because that would be so much worse:

Birthmarks, be damned: the FBI has officially started rolling out a state-of-the-art face recognition project that will assist in their effort to accumulate and archive information about each and every American at a cost of a billion dollars.

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  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 .

“The NGI Program is a compilation of initiatives that will either improve or expand existing biometric identification services,” its administrator explained to the Department of Justice at the time, adding that the project, “will accommodate increased information processing and sharing demands in support of anti-terrorism.”

“The NGI Program Office mission is to reduce terrorist and criminal activities by improving and expanding biometric identification and criminal history information services through research, evaluation and implementation of advanced technology within the IAFIS environment.”

The agency insists, “As a result of the NGI initiatives, the FBI will be able to provide services to enhance interoperability between stakeholders at all levels of government, including local, state, federal, and international partners.” In doing as such, though, the government is now going ahead with linking a database of images and personally identifiable information of anyone in their records with departments around the world thanks to technology that makes fingerprint tracking seem like kids’ stuff.

According to their 2006 report, the NGI program utilizes “specialized requirements in the Latent Services, Facial Recognition and Multi-modal Biometrics areas” that “will allow the FnewBI to establish a terrorist fingerprint identification system that is compatible with other systems; increase the accessibility and number of the IAFIS terrorist fingerprint records; and provide latent palm print search capabilities.”

Read the whole thing. 

They’re going to start by programming it with the criminal database, naturally. Now, everyone who thinks they’re going to stop with the criminal database, raise your hand. Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

You do know that Facebook was training their Face.com facial recognition software using all those pictures you share with friends, creating a ginormous database linking facial features with personal details, right? Allegedly, Facebook “shut down” the Face.com APIs less than a month after they purchased Face.com outright, but I doubt very much this is the last we’ll see of it.

So, once criminal databases go online and bored FBI techs are sitting around trying to figure out what to do between office chair races, you can expect the FBI to start training the system to recognize everybody. If you have any kind of ID, they already have your photo and personal info. I mean they’re just doing it in case, y’know, you’re ever kidnapped or anything, so they can determine your last known location. It’s all for your own safety. If you disagree, you hate America. You don’t hate America, do you? DO YOU?!

And just in case you don’t have enough terrifying high-tech spy news today, here’s a little piece on a drone that makes the Predator look like something you’d expect to find at your local RC flying club. You know how the Predator can deliver pin-point death from above using its two Hellfire missiles? Yeah, so … the Reaper has 14 of them. Don’t you feel safer already? I’m sure they’ll never use something that terrifying for domestic law enforcement, right?

Here’s more on New York’s Domain Awareness System, which almost seems quaint in the light of the FBI’s billion dollar national spy system.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • elGaucho

    Chicago has a large surveillance system too. When asked if the program was effective at deterring crime, the Chicago police naturally refused to release the results causing a long legal battle. After reviewing the results, an independent researcher found that Chicago’s statistical study had asked “Do a lack of surveillance cameras on every block cause more crime?” For which, the answer: “inconclusive, therefore, yes.” And thus the city began to build more cameras. But of course, Chicago then began to have a serious murder problem and enterprising drug businesses planned moves to suburbs known for having inhabitants who had tried escaping the city. But we all know that technology can only make things better, or at least, so say technologists. So that serious “problem” of nationwide terrorism we all face will be made better with technology. What is terrorism? Ask Janet Napolitano. But remember that terrorism only ever occurs outside of government buildings so the surveillance system should never be used to monitor those doing the surveillance.


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