The FBI has opened a new research center dedicated to biometric technology, and has high expectations for how it will help to advance the field. The Biometric Technology Center, or BTC, is on the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) campus in West Virginia.
The development is part of an ongoing partnership between the FBI’s Biometric Center of Excellence and the Department of Defense’s Forensics and Biometrics Agency, a collaboration intended to improve government authorities’ efforts at tracking terrorists and criminals in the US. The partnership allows both agencies to leverage considerable resources, given that the the CJIS Division claims to have the world’s biggest centralized biometric database while the DoD wields a military biometrics database system. Dedicating the new BTC, FBI Executive Assistant Director Amy Hess explained that it “will be a home for a joint biometric research and development efforts between the FBI, the Pentagon, and other agencies,” while a statement from the FBI asserted that, in addition to advancing and developing biometric technologies for use by law enforcement and security forces, BTC researchers “will also focus on biometrics product certification, training, standards development, privacy rights, and research and development into emerging technologies.”
That nod to privacy rights could prove important going forward. While the US government has invested heavily in biometric technology for its defense and security agencies, the use of such technology is increasingly coming under scrutiny, both from privacy and civil rights advocates, and from within the government itself. It’s an undoubtedly useful technology for law enforcement and defense, but such government organizations may need to be increasingly careful about how it’s deployed going forward if they are to avoid legal issues and potential public backlashes.
August 14, 2015 – by Alex Perala
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