US: Military, Border Guard and Police build giant biometrics surveillance network


The US military has discovered automated biometric recognition as a new weapon. It therefore collects facial images, iris recordings, fingerprints and DNA data from friends and foes wherever possible in the context of operations. The physical characteristics and their comparison with searchable databases or lists of known terrorist perpetrators should help to recognize opponents, to air the "fog of war" on battlefields and to prevent attacks. The danger of abuse for other surveillance purposes is high.

"By denying anonymity to our opponents, we can increase our lethal combat effectiveness," writes senior Pentagon staff member Glenn Krizay, according to the new online magazine OneZero based on requests under the US Freedom of Information Act, "It's just like breaking the camouflage from an enemy ammo dump."

Krizay is the director of the Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency (DFBA), which operates the US Military's Automated Biometric Information System (ABIS). According to the report, the biometric database already contains 7.4 million identities, ranging from potential terrorists in operational areas to Allied soldiers training with US forces. The Pentagon has invested $ 345 million in the IT system over the past decade.

The ABIS, first designed by Lockheed and now operated by the US arms company Leidos, allows military units to mark "people of interest" according to the published presentation, and to put them on a watchlist called the "Biometrically Enabled Watch List" (BEWL). Affected parties can be identified, tracked and, if necessary, killed by drone strikes by surveillance systems in theaters of war, at borders or in military camps worldwide. The beginnings of the Pentagon's biometric surveillance program are in US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The slides also show how the military biometrics system is linked to counterparts at the state or local level and how the alliance is to be constantly expanded. ABIS is already connected to the "Next Generation Identification" (NGI) database of the FBI, which in 2016 alone contained 411.9 million facial images and is now expected to grow significantly. The NGI, in turn, is networked with numerous US state, urban, and municipal IT systems. Ultimately, DFBA can align its holdings with biometric features of millions of US citizens.

At the same time, the Pentagon Authority is working to link its own systems to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) biometric database, where Krizay served as a senior manager after his time as an intelligence specialist with the Air Force. According to recent estimates, the DHS will have biometric features in 2022 including fingerprints and facial and iris images of 259 million people from all over the world have in their system 40 million more than expected in 2017

Even today, the DHS database, which is currently being relocated to the Amazon cloud to make it easier to search with a "Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology" (HART), is the world's second largest biometric label library. Only the no less controversial Indian aadhaar system contains more relevant identification features. At the DHS, the data comes from visa applications or the border protection system and the US Visit entry program.

A year ago, the NATO countries have decided to set up a biometric database, Titled "Nato Automated Biometric Identification System" (NABIS) should also be stored in it recordings of the face, iris and fingersas reports. The Federal Ministry of Defense has this confirmed in principle,

According to its own statements, NATO tested a prototype in 2014 in the joint maneuver "Unified Vision". The US military also explains the technical ABIS specifications at the time. In a later version, hands and veins, manuscripts, speech samples, keystrokes or people's gait could also be collected and processed as biometric information.