ACLU files broad request for information on Justice Department biometrics use

ACLU files broad request for information on Justice Department biometrics use

In a broad Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the American Civil Liberties Union has asked for 20 different sets of data from the Justice Department about the use of biometric technology by the department as a whole, as well as the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.

The request notes that Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides cloud services for all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, and that Microsoft Azure is likewise available to all 17. Both of those service providers offer facial recognition technology, and the FBI uses NEC’s Integra ID, the ACLU says.

In addition to facial recognition, the ACLU asks specifically for information on gait and voice recognition systems.

The ACLU made a similar request for information from the Department of Homeland Security, which operates the U.S. government’s Office of Biometrics Identity Management (OBIM), but focused on facial recognition, and Amazon Rekognition in particular.

The 20 categories of records requested by the ACLU include information about policy directives, legal memoranda, monitoring of protesters, policies, guidelines and manuals for the FBI’s FACE and Next Generation Identification services, data sharing with state and local agencies, communications with vendors, accuracy testing and audit results, the number of searches performed, and biometric tracking of journalists’ sources.

With controversy over the use of biometrics, and facial recognition in particular, by law enforcement agencies drawing attention from civil liberties groups, spilling into shareholder’s meetings, and government committees, any surprises from such a disclosure is likely to generate headlines.

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