By 2014, the FBI plans to test a database for searching iris scans nationwide to quickly track criminals, according to budget documents and a contractor working on the project.
The Next-Generation Identification system, a multiyear $1 billion program already under way, is expanding the server capacity of the FBI’s old fingerprint database to allow for rapid matching of additional physical identifiers, including facial images and palm prints.
Today, iris scans conjure images of covert agents accessing high-security banks and laboratories. But law enforcement agencies are increasingly spending state and federal funds on iris recognition technology at jails to monitor inmates. Some Missouri prisons are buying the same system the FBI acquired, partly so that they can eventually exchange iris images with federal law enforcement officials. And many counties are storing pictures of prisoner irises in a nationwide database managed by a private company, BI2 Technologies.
The FBI expects to collect many of these state and local iris images, according to B12 officials and federal documents.