The FBI stated they have awarded Lockheed Martin a Billion Dollar contract “to develop what is expected to be the world’s largest crime-fighting computer database of biometric information.” We knew it was coming as the Bush administration presses forward with efforts to keep tabs on every aspect of our lives - and now it appears that the system will be used for much more than identification purposes:
Lockheed Secures Contract to Expand Biometric Database
By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 13, 2008; Page D01
The FBI yesterday announced the award of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to Lockheed Martin to develop what is expected to be the world’s largest crime-fighting computer database of biometric information, including fingerprints, palm prints, iris patterns and face images.
Under its contract to build Next Generation Identification, the Bethesda contractor will expand on the FBI’s electronic database of 55 million sets of fingerprints and criminal histories used by law enforcement and other authorities. The aim is to make the query and results process quicker, more flexible and more accurate.
To enable global sharing of data, NGI is to be built to technical standards shared by the departments of Homeland Security, Defense and State, as well as by Britain, Canada and other countries, Bush said. The FBI also hopes to offer a service allowing employers to store employees’ prints, subject to state privacy laws, so that if employees are ever arrested, the employer would be notified. (Emphasis added) MUCH MORE
This is two-day old news, yet I haven’t read a word so far in regard the “FBI also hopes to offer a service allowing employers to store employees’ prints, subject to state privacy laws, so that if employees are ever arrested, the employer would be notified.”
The intent of the FBI to form a program where an employer would be notified every time one of its employee’s was arrested is another serious infringement of our fundamental right of privacy on a scale that boggles the mind! Think about the possibility for abuse and the very basis of our justice system that assumes the accused are innocent until proven guilty. For those who are arrested and are found to be not guilty, an every day occurrence in this country, how will the employer act toward that employee knowing that he was suspected of committing a crime? Will the employer wait until the trial is over, or find any old reason to dismiss someone that “might” be guilty of committing a crime before the justice system is finished adjudicating the case?
Job applications ask if an individual has committed a felony for average positions, however, a program of this sort would have the potential to notify your employer of any petty arrest that might happen, and initially, the employer would have no idea if the employee was guilty or innocent. This program gives the employer a look into the personal lives of employees that goes far beyond what is currently acceptable or the norm and effectively marries the state with corporate interests, a sure signal of the rapidly rising police state merging its interests with corporate America - which is another indicator of the rise of fascism. Jobs that require a security clearance would trump this argument, but the language in the article was not specific, and I’m guessing it will be a program that will generate revenue as well as infringe on our personal lives and will more than likely be available to any employer that’s willing to pay and sign-up for the program.
Also, many of us have been wondering how the FBI will gather all of the data needed to maintain this “biometric database” that’s being contracted for, and right now, very few employers fingerprint their employees. Based on the FBI’s intent to sell/disseminate this type of information to employers, the program wouldn’t be effective unless more employers begin fingerprinting their employees - which means that in the very near future, we might hear of plans for America’s workplace to begin fingerprinting their workforces. That may sound like a stretch right now, but I doubt if the average American ever thought the government would wiretap our phones and monitor all of our computer traffic ten years ago - so whatever lies in the future will be at the Bush administrations whim until Congress gets off their butts and fight this President, something that now appears doubtful to happen.