At a price of $1 billion, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is undertaking construction of a biometric database that will store a lot more information on individuals including fingerprints, facial characteristics, sound patterns, iris, ear lobe, and palm prints.

An excerpt from Ars Technica:

Moving forward, the FBI expects to make this comprehensive biometric database available to a wide variety of federal, state, and local agencies, all in the name of keeping American safe from terrorists (and illegal immigration). The FBI also intends to retain (upon employer request) the fingerprints of any employee who has undergone a criminal background check, and will inform the employer if the employee is ever arrested or charged with a crime.

The database is being developed in collaboration with the Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR) at West Virginia University. Physical characteristics such as scars, walking and talking styles will also be stored to identify individuals. The technology is supposed to make possible the detection of individuals from a distance of 200 yards (facial recognition).

The Next Generation Identification System, as the new project is called, seeks to provide real time comparison and follows several such projects under the FBI’s aegis.

Questions remain on the availability of mechanisms for addressing misinterpretations in the system and its effect on civil liberties. The always-on surveillance society is becoming a reality.

More details:

FBI plans to expand biometric operations in state (DailyMail)

FBI Aims For World’s Largest Biometrics Database (InformationWeek)