As Suraj Sazawal reported earlier this month, the FBI has created a massive database, the Next Generation Identification system or NGI, filled with the biometric data (fingerprints, photos, iris scans, pictures of tattoos and more) of millions of Americans, which they will share with over 18,000 federal state and local police agencies. And, they want the database to be exempt from some important Privacy Act protections.
If the FBI gets their way, we won’t be able to find out if our information is in the database, and if it is there, whether it is correct. The exemption would also prevent us from holding the FBI accountable for using the database to track First Amendment activities and activists. That makes the system ripe for abuse and error. So, as reported today in the Washington Post, BORDC/DDF has joined with dozens of civil liberties, open government, civil rights groups and companies laying out some of our concerns with the FBI’s database, and their request to keep it secret.
Read the letter here and below.
Time and again, the FBI has shown its willingness to use its crime-fighting tools against movements for peace and justice, and aimed them particularly at communities of color and immigrants. There is no reason to expect the FBI to use NGI in a more fair and upstanding way than they use any other tool, so the agency’s attempt to shield this biometric behemoth, that is sucking in vast troves of the most intimate details of millions of innocent people, from important protections and accountability mechanisms of the Privacy Act is alarming and dangerous.