Privacy SOS

Biometrics video tells a government friendly story about very powerful technologies

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Have you seen Zero Dark Thirty yet? I haven't, but I've read a number of critical reviews of the movie that depict it as CIA propaganda. The film opens with audio from people trapped in the Twin Towers on 9/11, illustrating the horror they experienced in a grisly and arresting montage. Then the movie cuts to what critics describe as a forty five minute torture scene. Revenge.

That kind of cynical trick is employed in the clip above, too. But instead of working to convince us that torture was a necessary, if ugly, step in the "hunt to catch bin Laden," as critics have suggested ZDT does, the clip above pivots from the September 11 attacks to what is supposedly going to save us here in the "homeland": the rapidly expanding biometrics regime.

Take a look at the video above, produced for a 2011 biometrics trade conference. As you watch it, keep in mind that there is no evidence to show that the government's biometrics plans would do much to make us any safer here in the states. On the other hand, there is ample evidence that a full-on biometrics regime will fundamentally disturb our privacy and ability to retain any kind of anonymity in public. Privacy is cursorily mentioned towards the end of the clip, but in keeping with current government policy, we get vague promises instead of a discussion about concrete, privacy-protective rules.

You'll note that the video describes the ways in which the FBI and the DoD are merging their biometrics efforts. Increasingly, local police departments are joining the biometrics rush, too. Here in Massachusetts the Springfield police is implementing a counterinsurgency-inspired program against alleged gang members. Part of that program involves using hand-held biometric readers to check people's identities on the streets, just like the US military did and does in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The militarization of the domestic police continues apace. Biometrics are predominately a federal game right now, but that's going to change quickly. The trickle down has already begun. 

Read more about biometrics and the militarization of the police.

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