FBI Wants to Remove Privacy Protections From Its Massive Biometrics Database

The FBI is giving you only 21 business days to object to such exemptions. (Image: Pixabay)The FBI is giving you only 21 business days to object to such exemptions. (Image: Pixabay)

EFF and 44 Other Organizations Call for More Time to Respond

Since 2008, the FBI has been assembling a massive database of biometric information on Americans. This database, called Next Generation Identification (NGI), includes fingerprints, face recognition, iris scans and palm prints — collected not just during arrests, but also from millions of Americans for non-criminal reasons like immigration, background checks, and state licensing requirements.  Now the FBI wants to exempt this vast collection of data from basic requirements guaranteed under the federal Privacy Act — and it’s giving you only 21 business days to object.

Today, EFF, along with 44 other privacy, civil liberties, and immigrants’ rights organizations, sent a letter to the FBI demanding more time to respond.

What Is NGI?

NGI contains well over 100-million individual records that include multiple forms of biometric data as well as personal and biographic information. Although many people assume the FBI’s files only include fingerprints and other data associated with criminal activity, much of these records — nearly 50-million individual files — contain data collected for non-criminal purposes. For example, in some states, you’ll need to give the government your prints if you want to be adentistaccountantteachergeologistrealtorlawyer or even an optometrist. And, since 1953, all jobs with the federal government have required a fingerprint check — not just jobs requiring a security clearance, but even part-time food service workersstudent interns,designerscustomer service representatives, and maintenance workers.

Just last year, the FBI announced that for the first time it would combine almost all of this non-criminal data with its criminal data in NGI. This means that now, if you submit fingerprints for licensing or for a background check, they’ll most likely end up living…

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