Wired Blog Network
Monday, April 30, 2007
Like any dictator worth the title, Saddam Hussein kept good records on his people — dossiers that included fingerprints. Now the occupying forces in Iraq have digitized his fingerprint files in order to screen potential recruits for the Iraqi police force using Automated Fingerprint Identification System technology, according to reporter David Axe’s post at Aviation Week’s ARES blog, cross-posted to Wired’s DANGER ROOM.
AFIS is a widely used technology to compare one print against a database of prints, and is used by local, state, national and foreign law enforcement agencies.
So by digitizing those records and looking for matches among recruits, the police trainers have been able to catch scores of former felons, Ba’athists and other ne’er-do-wells before they donned the blue uniform, according to U.S. Army Brigadier General David Phillips. “We have caught people coming straight out of jail.”
This is a great example of re-using old data with new systems to achieve a result no one had anticipated when the data and the systems were created. Still, this does not represent a major success for proponents of battlefield biometrics. What we need is tough handheld enrollment devices for building new databases about current populations … and we need universal databases for Iraq so that trainers, military police and everyone else are on the same page.
Actually, having an unwanted occupying force re-using a dictator’s secret spy files, “building new databases about current populations” and creating “universal databases” sounds pretty creepy to me — justified, I assume, with the idea that the end justifies the means.
There are some core accepted practices around personal data usage — data should be thrown out at a certain point, data collected for one purpose should not be re-used for another reason without permission and individuals should have the right to see and contest the accuracy of data in their files. Those principles are universally accepted in the free world as necessary checks and balances on government data collections, even as the U.S. government continually finds ways to opt its databases out of those requirements domestically.
Starting up a new system to take the fingerprints of people convicted of a crime is one thing. Digitizing the secret spy files of a murderous dictator and enrolling new people simply detained by local cops or foreign soldiers? I can taste the freedom from here.
This article encapsulates everything that is wrong with biometrics and national identity cards.
The original was data supplied by Iraqis as a ‘normal’ part of their lives. They did it to be a part of their society, ‘for the good of society’. It was used for years ‘normally’. Then, the nightmare scenario began; their country was invaded.
Their data is being reprocessed and repurposed without their consent by a fascist hoard of satanic invaders. They are now suffering precisely the scenario that people are warning about here in the UK. You might (if you are COMPLETELY INSANE) trust Tony Blair and his government to keep your data private and not abuse it, but in the future, another government of liars, murderers, fascists, control freaks, poodle dogs and venal incompetents could easily be elected, and then your data will be abused, used against you, sold to anyone with money etc etc.
That is what the poor suffering Iraqis are getting a taste of right now.
And as for the ‘handheld enrollment devices’ we have seen the precursors of these right here.
And as for ‘smelling the freedom from here’, well, its not surprising, because the STENCH you are detecting with your badly damaged olfactory glands is the rotting corpse of YOUR OWN DEMOCRACY and FREEDOM. Your own REALID and RFID passports are stinking up the air right there in america, so, by all means, sniff out the fascist horrors that are going on in Iraq at the hands of your soldiers and government, but do take a look outside your own front door, and bury your own dead!
And you forgot to put the word ‘democracy’ in single quotes. Doh.