FBI Pays Out $1 Billion For Big Brother
The Federal Bureau of Investigation — in a move that smells more of the Ministry of Love — has announced a $1,000,000,000 plan to build the largest biometric database in the world, and to do it in the next ten years.
Biometrics — information used to recognize and differentiate humans by physical and behavioral characteristics — has fascinated scientists and science fiction for years. Any spy film worth its salt has a fingerprint scanner, retina analysis, or voice recognition software, and scientists have been working hard to make these things a reality. And they have: USB-powered fingerprint scanners are available for around $30. Now, however, the FBI has plans to take biometrics from cutting edge to creepy, by spending $1 billion over the next ten years compiling a database of fingerprints, iris patters, physical data like face shapes and scars, and maybe even voice and body language.
According to the assistant director of the FBI's riminal Justice Information Services Division, the program is "Bigger. Faster. Better. That's the bottom line." One might argue a better tag-line would have been "Big Brother Is Watching You."
Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.
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