Is it just me, or does it seem like Big Brother keeps getting bigger every day?
Back in 2006, the FBI explained to the U.S. Justice Department that it was working on a facial recognition system that at some point would serve as an upgrade to the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System that keeps track of citizens with criminal records across America. The agency declared that the mission of this Next Generation Identification program would be to reduce terrorist and criminal activity.
Today, it appears that this state-of-the-art system is about to be up and running – at a cost of approximately $1 billion – and the FBI expects the system to include as many as 14 million photos within two years. Really? Are there actually 14 million terrorists currently living in the U.S.?
No. As with all of the government’s new surveillance programs that take advantage of advanced technology, it’s not just about catching terrorists and dangerous criminals, but rather spying on average, law-abiding citizens. The system will track the movements of anyone in whom they are interested. Needless to say, this system has privacy concerns written all over it.
“Facial recognition creates acute privacy concerns that fingerprints do not,” U.S. Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, told the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law in 2012. “Once someone has your face print, they can get your name, they can find your social networking account, and they can find and track you in the street, in the stores you visit, the government buildings you enter and the photos your friends post online.”
This this out: “FBI Begins Installation of $1 Billion Face Recognition System Across America.” Put on a jacket before you read it because it will probably give you a chill.
Sometimes when I express concern about the increasing amount of surveillance being conducted by the government on its citizens, I hear comments such as, “Well, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”
One of the many problems with that naïve philosophy is that even if you’re not doing anything illegal, you may be doing something that the government frowns upon and is trying to make illegal. And even if you’re not doing anything that the government doesn’t like, do you really want to be spied on everywhere you go? Is that what living in a “free” country is about? Is that the type of “freedom” that countless Americans have died to protect?
I’d like to hear how you feel about the Next Generation Identification program. Do you have a problem with your every move being tracked? Do you think this highly sophisticated system is appropriate, as long as it helps capture some bad guys? Please chime in on this important topic.