23:28 GMT31 March 2020
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    A coalition of 45 civil rights and privacy advocates denounced in a letter to the Department of Justice on Wednesday a new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) biometrics identification database that could severely jeopardize US privacy protections.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system is an upgraded biometric identification database which employs facial recognition, iris scanning, fingerprinting and other advanced identification technologies to coordinate local, state, and federal law enforcement actions.

    The system is scheduled to go into effect later in 2016 after a short period of public review.

    "The NGI system uses some of the most advanced surveillance technologies known to humankind" to create a database with records of millions of US citizens, the civil rights coalition argued in a May 27 letter to the Department of Justice.

    According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the database will not only collect information on convicted criminals, but on "many people who are just applying for a job, volunteer position, naturalization, or military commission, and others who need to undergo a fingerprint or photo background check."

    Under the NGI system, the FBI "asks to be exempt from Privacy Act rules," the civil rights coalition argued in their letter. The FBI would no longer have to disclose when an individual is included in a government database, whether the individual's information is accurate, or if that person's profile had been shared with other parts of the US government.

    The coalition of advocates denounced the program as "an extraordinarily broad proposal" that will negatively impact sensitive communities, including a disproportionate number of African Americans, Latinos and immigrants.

    "If the FBI is allowed to get this exemption, not only will we be unable to monitor and correct this racially biased database, but the FBI would be able to again run illegal spy programs COINTELPRO [that targeted the US civil rights movement in the 1960s]," colorofchange.org activists said in a press release.

    The coalition initially sent the letter to the Department of Justice to request an extension on the 21-day period for public review and comment on the proposed database.

    According to a Wednesday report by The Intercept, after receiving the letter, the Department of Justice extended the period for public review until July 6.


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