The FBI‘s begun the rollout of its brand-new biometric database system. Costing an estimated $1 billion, it pulls together facial recognition, voice sampling, and even DNA and iris-scanning technology where available, in addition to its already massive fingerprint database. Mug-shot, drivers’ license, and passport photos all come together in a joyous mash-up in the system, along with real-time data from the ever-increasing lineup of cameras in stores, on streets, and of course, at border crossings.
According to New Scientist, facial recognition systems have reached the point where they can match a single face from a pool of 1.6 million mugshots/passport photos with 92% accuracy, in under 1.2 seconds [PDF]. In the case of automated, biometric border controls where your face and corresponding mugshot are well lit, the accuracy approaches 100%.
Not all modules are presently active; the agency claims that the photo database incorporates only drivers’ license photos and mug-shots of known criminals at this time, but the capability for additional module activation is built in and a trivial matter to engage. This makes it a simple matter to add medical records for additional biometric markers. The increasing incorporation of voice command technology in private vehicles further sets the stage for activation of subsequent voice recognition modules, and of course if your cell phone is on, triangulation allows for identifying your location and subsequent movements.
Big Brother is very much alive and well.