As of today the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s new biometric database is fully operational. Called the Next Generation Identification (NGI) System, the database will collect fingerprints, palm prints, iris scans, and images of faces.

The system has been up and running since 2011. Today two new features were added to the database to make it fully functional. The first is Rap Back, a tool that allows authorized officials to get notified when a person “holding positions of trust,” like a teacher or politician, commits a crime. The second is the Interstate Photo System facial recognition service, an image search function that will allow law enforcement to better identify criminals captured on surveillance tape.

The technology seems far from perfect, especially if you consider that most surveillance cameras are low resolution.

The government agency has been working for years on this technology. Earlier this year we reported that the new database would house identification records for criminals as well as non-criminals, possibly collecting data from background checks — a scary prospect for those concerned with personal privacy.

News of the database first hit the web in 2011. The Electronic Freedom Foundation alleges that the the NGI system will hold more than 100 million records and 52 million facial images by 2015.


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