Forget fingerprints, now your face is on file and captured everywhere you go. The FBI has announced that its facial recognition system – launched three years ago – is now “fully operational.” The facial recognition program is part of the Next Generation Identification (NGI) System which is set to replace the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Though it is not really an either or with fingerprints and face recognition as the new system seeks to collect many forms of biometric data.

With the growing prevalence of surveillance cameras it will not be long before Americans walking down a street in any city or town may find their biometric information being run through the FBI’s database – automatically and without consent. The panopticon will be televised, for some.

If you are ever arrested, for anything, your biometric data will be included in the system and provide future employers with an opportunity to investigate your background thanks to some of the new features with NGI according to the FBI:

As part of NGI’s full operational capability, the NGI team is introducing two new services: Rap Back and the Interstate Photo System (IPS). Rap Back is a functionality that enables authorized entities the ability to receive ongoing status notifications of any criminal history reported on individuals holding positions of trust, such as school teachers. Law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, and other criminal justice entities will also greatly improve their effectiveness by being advised of subsequent criminal activity of persons under investigation or supervision.

The IPS facial recognition service will provide the nation’s law enforcement community with an investigative tool that provides an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities. This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler.

What could go wrong? Clearly the problem in America is too many people working who have criminal records that their employers don’t know about – wait, actually the problem is a massive prison-industrial complex that makes imprisoning people a business and ensures those that churn through that system are unable to integrate back into society without great difficulty.

It is also interesting to note that the FBI describes IPS as an “investigative enabler” which raises questions about how the system is applied to finding someone who is not in the database because they have yet to ever be arrested. How will IPS be used in that scenario? Might it be that photos from state license databases – such as the department of motor vehicles – will be integrated into IPS? If so, then this will really be a system for everyone won’t it? Where anyone who has a photo ID from a federal or state agency will be included and accessible.

Free range citizens.

Photo by GeorgeHH under public domain.

Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.