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Obama’s new national security strategy makes a push for biometrics data sharing


President Barack Obama recently unveiled the new National Security Strategy, in which he emphasized that consolidation of information across intelligence agencies is crucial in protecting the country against terrorist threats and cyber attacks, according to a report by Defense One.

Under the new strategy, the Obama administration aims to “better integrate” the intelligence community across agencies and foreign intelligence services to ultimately improve national security as well as reduce costs.

The sharing of information has recently led to several breakthroughs within the law enforcement and the national security community, including the FBI securing the identity of masked Islamic terrorist Jihadi John, who killed several hostages.

The fugitive’s identification was made possible by intelligence provided by the Defense Department and foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies, which were aided by in-person collaboration and interoperability between systems, including the FBI’s Automated Biometric Identification System.

“Bottom line, you have to have something to search,” Stephen L. Morris, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services division, said at the recent Biometrics for Government and Law Enforcement conference in Washington. “This is where collaboration and interoperability are key.

“The FBI absolutely could not do its mission if we didn’t have interoperability with DHS and interoperability with DOD, because they have holdings in their biometric repositories, biometric information that they’ve collected lawfully… data that may be a piece that we don’t have. Maybe we have a finger print on an individual but they have a fingerprint and a passport photo.”

In the future, intelligence agencies will likely share even more biometric data collected from borders and on battlegrounds around the globe.

Reported last month, the U.S. Army announced it is updating its existing automated biometric identification system and would begin processing data from iris and facial recognition scans at the border.

Better integration of ABIS and the Department of Defense’s biometric-enabled watch list could result in more effective real time data regarding all individuals crossing important checkpoints and whether or not they have ever interacted with U.S. troops.

Last month, the Obama administration unveiled a cyber security proposal “to ensure that cyber threat indicators are shared with other federal entities in as close to real time as practicable.”

The proposal is deeply controversial as it contains a clause that allows private companies to share user’s private data with the government, which is likely to be met with strong opposition.

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