Published: June 2016

The FBI is watching you, but who is watching the FBI?

Forty-six privacy, civil liberties and immigrants' rights organizations sent a letter to Congress urging their Senate and House of Representative committees to hold oversight hearings to assess the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Next Generation Identification program and their use of citizen’s biometric data. There are several privacy, civil liberties, and human right issues raised by the biometric database and the FBI’s use of facial recognition technologies. To date, all of these biometric searches have been done without any judicial oversight or internal audits. Furthermore, unnecessarily retaining vast amounts of personal and biometric information exposes millions of Americans to a potential data breach.

Consumer Action joined privacy, consumer and civil liberties advocates in asking Congress to organize an oversight hearing on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) biometric database, citing an FBI proposal to exempt the "Next Generation Identification” (NGI) database from Privacy Act safeguards. The FBI’s biometric database contains profiles on arrestees and people with records as well as individuals with no ties to the criminal justice system, and is used for both law enforcement and non-law enforcement purposes. Advocates also urged the committees to require the FBI’s compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974 and enforce ongoing public reports on the FBI’s use, collection, retention, and disclosure of biometric information.

Oversight hearings are necessary to assess the privacy, civil liberties, and human right issues raised by NGI. The collection of biometric data on millions of people gives law enforcement the ability to identify individuals without probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or any other legal standard that might otherwise be required for law enforcement to obtain traditional identification. Through the use of biometric identifiers like facial recognition, law enforcement can covertly and remotely identify people on a mass scale.

Lead Organization

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Other Organizations | Advocacy for Principled Action in Government | American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee | American Civil Liberties Union | American Library Association | Amnesty International USA | Arab American Institute | Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus | Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation | Center for Democracy & Technology Center for Digital Democracy | Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights | Center for Media Justice | Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law | | Constitutional Alliance | The Constitution Project | Consumer Action | Consumer Watchdog | Council on American-Islamic Relations | Cyber Privacy Project | Demand Progress | Electronic Frontier Foundation | Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) | Fight for the Future | Free Press Action Fund | Freedom of the Press Foundation | Government Accountability Project | Coalition Request for Oversight Hearing | Immigrant Legal Resource Center Media Mobilizing Project | MPower Change | National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers | National Consumers League | National Day Laborer Organizing Network | National Employment Law Project | National Immigration Law Center | National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild | National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund | New America's Open Technology Institute | | Patient Privacy Rights | Privacy Rights Clearinghouse | Privacy Times | Restore the Fourth | Sunlight Foundation | World Privacy Forum

More Information

To view the coalition letter, please click here.

For more information, please visit EPIC's website.


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