$500 billion spent on intelligence, according to U.S. “black budget”

The United States has spent more than US$500 billion on intelligence since 9/11, an outlay that U.S. officials say has succeeded in its main objective, preventing another catastrophic terrorist attack. This fiscal information, published in intelligent estimates colloquially known as the “black budget”, was revealed for the first time nearly a year ago, through whistle-blower disclosures made by Edward Snowden, which were published by the Washington Post. According to the “black budget”, the United States spent US$80 billion on spy

Biometric exit system spawns U.S. immigration debate

Many Americans think the U.S. immigration system is urgently in need of reform. A Gallup poll conducted in January 2013 found that only 36 percent of Americans were satisfied with the current immigration situation in the United States. The political response has focused on securing the border through heavy enforcement.  As a result, more than 20,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents operate along the borders, which is the highest number deployed in U.S. history and twice the level of a decade

Canadian academics, privacy groups issue statement against mass spying

In Canada this week, a number of academics have become signatories to a statement calling upon governments to reign in mass surveillance in Canada. Known as the Ottawa Statement, the document acknowledges that Canada is now “entering an age of Big Data and ubiquitous surveillance” and that “governments and private corporations routinely collect and sort massive amounts of personal data for multiple reasons from national security to marketing”. Over 35 leading scholars and 19 organizations have signed on in support.The

Indian election to impact Aadhaar

The historic win of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent national election might result in changes to Aadhaar, the world’s biggest biometrics bank. The Aadhaar program, governed by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), aims to enroll all of the country’s residents through biometrics, in order to distribute 12-digit identity cards for access to social programs. So far, the program has combined enrollment of approximately 850 million people, with 630 million Aadhaar numbers generated. The

U.S. continues to spy on ordinary citizens

During a recent trip to Europe, President Obama said that the U.S. intelligence community was not snooping on “ordinary citizens,” despite many indications to the contrary. “I am confident that everybody in our intelligence agencies operates with the best of intentions and is not snooping into the privacy of ordinary Dutch, German, French or American citizens,” Obama told reporters during a multilateral summit in The Hague. Obama said that due to spy revelations made by the former, renegade intelligence contractor

Biometric voter enrollment engenders rewards and risks

Ensuring quick and precise voter enrollment and identification is the cornerstone of any credible election. Biometric systems are increasingly being deployed in the developing world with the aim to ensure a fair and efficient electoral process. In rich countries, almost everyone has a reliable form of official identification, and biometric technology has traditionally been employed mainly for security and forensics. However, many developing countries suffer from an identity gap where millions of people lack official forms of identification, including birth

Obama’s new measures won’t limit government spying

Despite President Obama directing his administration to reform U.S. surveillance programs in order to make the intelligence community more transparent, spying will continue unabated. While his new guidance to the U.S. intelligence community declares that the United States must not collect intelligence “for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent, or for disadvantaging persons based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion”, the continued widespread electronic collection of intelligence will go on. Obama’s administration is only

$1,000 Genome will improve health, lower healthcare costs

Last year, the going cost to get one’s genome sequenced was about $10,000. Now it will be closer to one grand.  Illumina, a publicly traded biotech company that specializes in the gene-sequencing machine market, has succeeded in reducing genomic analysis costs by a factor of ten. Through continuous innovation, Illumina technology has broken down barriers in human genome sequencing by increasing data throughput by an astounding rate.  The result has been dramatic price reduction, ushering in the age of the

U.S. right to review consumer facial recognition technology

The U.S. Government recently announced that it will review the privacy implications of facial recognition technology.  As BiometricUpdate.com originally reported, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration has announced that a new consultation process will begin in Feburary to examine the commercial use of the technology. The objective of the consultation, according to the Obama administration, is to develop a voluntary, enforceable code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies to facial recognition technology.  Concerns about the

Usability should be key consideration in biometric border systems

Usability and functionality should be a primary concern for designers and manufacturers of biometric systems. Though such systems typically are deployed for security applications, they should still provide an exemplary service experience that quickly meets the basic needs of the user, without fuss or bother. Most would attest that the air travel experience is anything but an exemplary one. Travelers in the high-security, post-911 era have to run a high-paced gantlet of airline flight check-in, along with baggage drop-off, security