Secrecy News

Presidential Directive Orders Sharing of Biometric Data

The White House last week issued a National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-59) to provide a framework for government agencies to collect, maintain and share biometric data such as fingerprints and other physiological or behavioral characteristics of suspected terrorists.

“The ability to positively identify those individuals who may do harm to Americans and the Nation is crucial to protecting the Nation,” the directive states.

“Many agencies already collect biographic and biometric information in their identification and screening processes. With improvements in biometric technologies, and in light of its demonstrated value as a tool to protect national security, it is important to ensure agencies use compatible methods and procedures in the collection, storage, use, analysis, and sharing of biometric information.”

“Through integrated processes and interoperable systems, agencies shall, to the fullest extent permitted by law, make available to other agencies all biometric and associated biographic and contextual information associated with persons for whom there is an articulable and reasonable basis for suspicion that they pose a threat to national security.”

“The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy,” who hasn’t been heard from much lately, “shall coordinate executive branch biometric science and technology policy.”

The new directive on “Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security” was issued on June 5, 2008 as both National Security Presidential Directive 59 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 24.

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