Unbeknownst to the public, Los Angeles County law enforcement is developing a system to retain an increasing amount of biometric data that it collects for longer periods of time. Following the FBI’s lead and its recent development of the Next Generation Identification System, the county is working on a multimodal biometric identification system that would collect fingerprints, iris scans, mugshots, palm prints, and even voice recordings. Controversy arises as oversight, transparency, accountability, and security have become issues for the program. In addition, the LA County program has come under fire because of reports that the data will be held indefinitely. Because biometric data is unchangeable, privacy advocates see this as a significant issue as data collection expands and people cannot escape identification by law enforcement. They also say that the program has illegally avoided an impact review on privacy, an action that is required by federal law. The system isn’t expected to be fully functional for another three years, and it will collect data on up to an estimated 15 million individuals who are processed by law enforcement in the county. What do you think of law enforcement collecting data on individuals and holding it indefinitely? Is there a potential for misuse? Should security concerns trump privacy rights?
Ali Winston, Center for Investigative Reporting who wrote the piece on the expansion of this new program to LA
Tim Williams, founder of TT Williams Investigations, a private investigation firm in Los Angeles. He is a retired LAPD senior detective supervisor
Peter Bibring, Director of Police Practices” for the ACLU of California and senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California