The FBI’s Next Generation Identification System (NGIS) is a database of biometric information including fingerprints, eye scans, facial scans, and DNA samples. The database is often used to identify crime suspects. But is does not only include information of people that have committed a crime. NGIS also includes biometric data of people that had their fingerprint or iris scanned, for example for jobs, security clearances, or licenses.
In 2015, the Electronic Frontier Foundation discovered that the NGIS already contained data of over 52 million people, which equals one sixth of the current US population.
In collecting this data, the FBI was actively going after biometrics contained in private databases, the San Diego Union-Tribune discovered in March 2016.
So far, the agency had to inform individuals about the records they collect and keep about them. But the FBI now wants to be exempt from several provisions of the Privacy Act. This means that the agency would not have to report anymore about how the database is used and whose details are stored inside it. The database could be grown without anyone else finding out.