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IPFS News Link • Homeland Security

Building Big Brother: DHS to gain real-time access to DoD biometrics

"We'll be able to get information from the warfighters, information that will inform our decision makers," he said. "That doesn't mean we're not sharing information right now. Every day, every week, every month we get prints from DoD, we load them into the system. We've made several identifications based on latent prints. But it's kind of interoperability on the cheap. We're getting the data there by Buffalo drive or CD. Within about a year's time frame we believe we're going to have the kind of connectivity that we have with the FBI." Killion said although the military's first major foray into the area a decade ago was as a means of positively identifying its own personnel and giving them access to the department's IT systems, it has since then amassed its own large database of biometric data, including everything from fingerprints, to facial profiles, to iris scans. "As operations overseas grew, it became more of an operational necessity to be able to identify and track individuals in the battlespace," he said. "The fact of the matter is that that's a growth industry for the DoD. In the future, we will need these capabilities regardless of the type of operation that we'll be performing. Whether it's disaster relief, whether it's stability and support operations, whether it's some level of limited conflict, we will need these capabilities in the field to track whose who would do us harm." And though the new methods of information sharing are a huge step forward, FBI assistant director Dan Roberts warned the technical implementation of biometric data sharing is the easy part. As with any interagency exchange of personally identifiable information, biometrics raises policy questions. For example, the criminal justice information system that he runs is populated by data that the FBI doesn't legally own. "My database is very rich with 70 million bad guys," he said. "But we don't own those records. They're owned by the states, by the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across this country. They submit them to us and allow us to use them, we hold them and distribute them per their agreements with each of the states.