Naughty Or Nice? Santa & The FBI Want To Know!
It’s often said that if a politician or newsmaker wants to make sure something gets swept under the rug, they’ll ensure it drops on a Friday afternoon. That way, the media gets distracted by other stories by the time Monday rolls around, and they can hope that it gets reported without fanfare.
So what does it mean when a story about government surveillance drops the Saturday before Christmas? It means you should pay extra-special attention:
The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world’s largest computer database of peoples’ physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.
Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.
“Bigger. Faster. Better. That’s the bottom line,” said Thomas E. Bush III, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which operates the database from its headquarters in the Appalachian foothills.
The goal is a permanent surveillance state, where you know neither how much information they’ve got on you, have no recourse to get a clear answer, and you never know who is or isn’t watching. It’s Big Brother, circa 2008.
I guess Santa’s not the only one with a list.