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EFF sues FBI for facial recognition records related to NGI program

 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the FBI over access to its facial recognition records, based on three FOIA requests the group made a year ago.

Acording to a statement on the group’s website, since early 2011, EFF has been closely following the FBI’s work to build out its Next Generation Identification (NGI) database, which is set to replace and expand upon the existing integrated automated fingerprint identification system.  The face recognition component of the NGI database is set to launch in 2014.

“NGI will result in a massive expansion of government data collection for both criminal and noncriminal purposes,” EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch, who testified before the U.S. Senate on the privacy implications of facial recognition technology in July of last year said. “Biometrics programs present critical threats to civil liberties and privacy. Face-recognition technology is among the most alarming new developments, because Americans cannot easily take precautions against the covert, remote, and mass capture of their images.”

EFF’s filed complaint is asking that its FOIAs submitted in June and July of last year be enforced and that more information is disclosed regarding agreements and discussions between the FBI and other state agencies regarding the facial recognition program.

“Before the federal government devices to expand its surveillance powers, there needs to be a public debate,” Lynch said. “But there can be no public debate until the details of the program are presented to the public.

The EFF isn’t the only organization looking for more information on the NGI database.

Reported previously, public interest research group, The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a FOIA lawsuit against the FBI in April to obtain documents related to the NGI.

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