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News Link • Surveillance

Why Is the Government Collecting Your Biometric Data?

• http://www.alternet.org, ByTana Ganeva
The next time you get pulled over, watch for a blocky, black gadget attached to the officer's iPhone. That's the MORIS device, one of many mobile fingerprint and biometric scanners proliferating in police departments around the country. MORIS is designed to ascertain identity and dig up an unsavory past, but that's not all: the device can also gather iris scans, fingerprints, and photos searchable with face recognition technology.

Mobile scanners like MORIS are just one of the many ways biometric data (unique, identifying physical features including fingerprints, DNA or iris scans) is collected and potentially fed into government and private biometric databases that have swelled in both size and sophistication in the decade after 9/11.

The Department of Justice is expanding its fingerprint database to include iris scans, photos searchable with face recognition technology, scars, tattoos, and measures of voice and gait. The DoD collects iris scans, prints and face recognition photos from anyone coming in and out of Afghanistan; Department of Homeland Security gathers face recognition photos and fingerprints from people entering the U.S. Even motor vehicle departments in many states use face recognition technology to ID people when they get their licenses, and they tend to be cooperative with criminal investigations. 

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