As the FBI prepares to begin using a controversial facial recognition system later this year, more than 30 privacy groups are urging the Justice Department to conduct a long-pledged audit of the database, the National Journal reports .
Groups are worried about the privacy of American citizens and said the lack of oversight “raises serious privacy and civil-liberty concerns,” according to a joint letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder.
“The capacity of the FBI to collect and retain information, even on innocent Americans, has grown exponentially,” the letter reads. “It is essential for the American public to have a complete picture of all the programs and authorities the FBI uses to track our daily lives, and an understanding of how those programs affect our civil rights and civil liberties.”
The Next Generation Identification program includes a biometric database that scans irises, palm prints and faces.
“One of the risks here, without assessing the privacy considerations, is the prospect of mission creep with the use of biometric identifiers,” said Jeramie Scott, national security counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, another of the letter’s signatories. “it’s been almost two years since the FBI said they were going to do an updated privacy assessment, and nothing has occurred.”