U.S. government adding biometric files to terrorism database

The U.S. government, with help from the CIA, is currently looking to obtain biometric data of some 1.1 million known or suspected terrorists, according to secret U.S. government documents obtained by online magazine The Intercept.

The enormous database also contains the names of about 25,000 Americans or legal residents, which account for about 2 percent of the total number of known or suspected terrorists, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The documents reveal that analysts have already updated the database with 730,000 biometric files, which include fingerprints, iris scans and facial photographs.

As of the end of 2013, the database had 860,000 biometric files in connection to 144,000 people.

According to The Intercept, the government collected biometric data from U.S. driver’s licenses last year, which included 2,400 images that were provided and uploaded to the database.

Dubbed the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), the database was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to support the watchlisting system and ultimately serve as a key tool in the U.S.’s counterterrorism defenses.

In addition to fingerprints, iris scans and facial images, the government has included in the database more non-traditional biometric datafields, such as handwriting, signatures, scars, tattoos and DNA strands.

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