The American Civil Liberties Union has filed open records requests with all the sheriffs along the U.S.-Mexico border in search of information about iris-scanning technology.
Yesterday we reported that the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have announced plans to scan the faces of all flyers exiting the United States. Another recent media report should give all Americans pause about the mass implementation of invasive surveillance measures.
“Thirty-one sheriffs, representing every county along the U.S.-Mexico border, voted unanimously on April 3 to adopt tools that will capture, catalogue, and compare individuals’ iris data, for use both in jails and out on patrol. Biometric Intelligence and Identification Technologies, the company behind the push, has offered the sheriffs a free three-year trial, citing law enforcement’s difficulties in identifying unauthorized immigrants whose fingerprints can be disfigured through manual labor or self-inflicted wounds,” The Intercept reports.
This project is being envisioned as a digital or a “biometric wall,” one of the latest examples of the integration of surveillance technology and biometrics. The Department of Homeland Security wants Border Patrol to operate facial recognition cameras at the airports. The FBI is building a secret biometrics database. And soon the United States will have its very own biometric wall from which to watch all traffic, entering and exiting.
In response to the aggressive threat to privacy and liberty, the American Civil Liberties Union chapters in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have sent public records requests to every sheriff along the U.S.-Mexico border demanding records of their plans to purchase and test iris-recognition technology.
“As mobile iris-scanning apps and tools become available, racial profiling by law enforcement could lead to Latinos and people of color having their eyes scanned simply because they speak Spanish or have brown skin,” the ACLU writes.
The Intercept reports that Biometric Intelligence and Identification Technologies, also known as BI2, already has an existing national iris database which is expected to rapidly expand with information on undocumented immigrants. BI2’s tech works by taking a high-resolution image of a person’s iris using a special infrared camera. The program creates a template based on that image and cross references it against fingerprints to eliminate false matches. Finally, the program compares the images against more than 987,000 iris scans currently held in BI2’s database. This database contains images from more than 180 law enforcement agencies nationwide.
The ACLU says the potential for “field-based collection” of iris scans raises significant privacy and civil rights concerns.
If sheriffs start using a mobile iris-recognition app, under what circumstances exactly would deputies subject residents to scanning? Will probable cause always be required? Do sheriffs intend to scan people at checkpoints and during routine stops? Border residents deserve to know.
Historically, sheriffs had the ultimate authority in the county. These border sheriffs could choose to stand up for the people and oppose the federal plan. However, this seems highly unlikely in the face of overwhelming pressure and coercion from the federal government. Where does that leave us as individuals? Are there any steps we can take to rid ourselves of this horrid situation?
We cannot shirk away from our present situation. We must stand strong and oppose these invasions of or our basic freedoms at every opportunity. The time has come to opt-out, unplug, and decentralize from this system.
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2
Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact Derrick@activistpost.com
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