The government's growing database of DNA and other identifying information is raising concerns from privacy and immigration advocates who want greater accountability about law enforcement's collection of biometric data, according to a new report.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Immigration Policy Center on Wednesday released their 23-page report, "From Fingerprints to DNA: Biometric Data Collection in U.S. Immigrant Communities."
The report, written by Electronic Frontier staff attorney Jennifer Lynch, raises concerns about the growing government database of biometric data collected from immigrants and other groups.
Homeland Security takes 300,000 fingerprints from noncitizens who cross the border every day, and regularly collects fingerprints and other data from people who are applying for immigration benefits, the report says.
Besides fingerprints, biometrics are typically collected through DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and photographs.
State and local law enforcement also collect this information, and the FBI has started working with several states to collect face-recognition-ready photos of suspects who have been arrested and booked, the report says.
"Once these federal biometrics systems are fully deployed, and once each of their approximately 100+ million records also includes photographs, it may become trivially easy to find and track people within the United States," the report states.
The groups are also concerned that collection tools "are getting smaller, more advanced, and less obtrusive, increasing their use for non-invasive though known, as well as unobtrusive, collection purposes."
"Increasingly, devices are portable, transmit data wirelessly, and are designed to allow collection, verification, and identification 'in the field,'" the report says.
Problems with biometrics collection are not limited to government agencies, the groups say, pointing to Facebook's face-recognition service that allows users to find friends online.
"It is likely the government will try to find a way to take advantage of Facebook's face recognition service for each of these purposes soon," according to the report...