View Full Version : FBI wants "Server in the Sky" International Database

01-15-2008, 02:00 AM

FBI wants instant access to British identity data
Americans seek international database to carry iris, palm and finger prints

Owen Bowcott
Tuesday January 15, 2008

Senior British police officials are talking to the FBI about an international database to hunt for major criminals and terrorists.The US-initiated programme, "Server in the Sky", would take cooperation between the police forces way beyond the current faxing of fingerprints across the Atlantic. Allies in the "war against terror" - the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand - have formed a working group, the International Information Consortium, to plan their strategy.

Biometric measurements, irises or palm prints as well as fingerprints, and other personal information are likely to be exchanged across the network. One section will feature the world's most wanted suspects. The database could hold details of millions of criminals and suspects.

The FBI is keen for the police forces of American allies to sign up to improve international security. The Home Office yesterday confirmed it was aware of Server in the Sky, as did the Metropolitan police.

The plan will make groups anxious to safeguard personal privacy question how much access to UK databases is granted to foreign law enforcement agencies. There will also be concern over security, particularly after embarrassing data losses within the UK, and accuracy: in one case, an arrest for a terror offence by US investigators used what turned out to be misidentified fingerprint matches.

Britain's National Policing Improvement Agency has been the lead body for the FBI project because it is responsible for IDENT1, the UK database holding 7m sets of fingerprints and other biometric details used by police forces to search for matches from scenes of crimes. Many of the prints are either from a person with no criminal record, or have yet to be matched to a named individual.

IDENT1 was built by the computer technology arm of the US defence company Northrop Grumman. In future it is expected to hold palm prints, facial images and video sequences. A company spokeswoman confirmed that Northrop Grumman had spoken to the FBI about Server in the Sky. "It can run independently but if existing systems are connected up to it then the intelligence agencies would have to approve," she said.

The FBI told the Guardian: "Server in the Sky is an FBI initiative designed to foster the advanced search and exchange of biometric information on a global scale. While it is currently in the concept and design stages, once complete it will provide a technical forum for member nations to submit biometric search requests to other nations. It will maintain a core holding of the world's 'worst of the worst' individuals. Any identifications of these people will be sent as a priority message to the requesting nation."

In London, the NPIA confirmed it was aware of Server in the Sky but said it was "too early to comment on what our active participation might be".

The FBI is proposing to establish three categories of suspects in the shared system: "internationally recognised terrorists and felons", those who are "major felons and suspected terrorists", and finally those who the subjects of terrorist investigations or criminals with international links. Tom Bush, assistant director at the FBI's criminal justice information service, has said he hopes to see a pilot project for the programme up and running by the middle of the year.

Although each participating country would manage and secure its own data, the sharing of personal data between countries is becoming an increasingly controversial area of police practice. There is political concern at Westminster about the public transparency of such cooperation.

A similar proposal has emerged from the EU for closer security cooperation between the security services and police forces of member states, including allowing countries to search each other's databases. Under what is known as the Prum treaty, there are plans to open up access to DNA profiles, fingerprints and vehicle registration numbers.

01-15-2008, 08:02 AM
January 13, 2008, 12:00 am
Dancing Spychief Wants to Tap Into Cyberspace

Siobhan Gorman reports on the U.S. spychief.

Spychief Mike McConnell is drafting a plan to protect America’s cyberspace that will raise privacy issues and make the current debate over surveillance law look like “a walk in the park,” McConnell tells The New Yorker in the issue set to hit newsstands Monday. “This is going to be a goat rope on the Hill. My prediction is that we’re going to screw around with this until something horrendous happens.”

At issue, McConnell acknowledges, is that in order to accomplish his plan, the government must have the ability to read all the information crossing the Internet in the United States in order to protect it from abuse. Congressional aides tell The Journal that they, too, are also anticipating a fight over civil liberties that will rival the battles over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Part of the lawmakers’ ire, they have said, is the paltry information the administration has provided. The cyberspace security initiative was first reported in September by The Baltimore Sun, and some congressional aides say that lawmakers have still learned more from the media than they did from the few Top Secret briefings they have received hours before the administration requested money in November to jump start the program.

In a series of interviews that began in July, McConnell also weighs in on the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In the past six years, McConnell says, U.S. intelligence agencies have stopped “many, many” terrorist attacks. But his deputy David Shedd says that in the search for America’s most-wanted terrorist, “the trail is cold.” McConnell says that while bin Laden is believed to be in the tribal region of Pakistan, the U.S. will not invade the country to chase him down. You cannot indiscriminately attack a sovereign nation,” he says, adding, though, that if the U.S. can pinpoint his location, “we’ll bring it to closure.”

On interrogation policy, McConnell said he reviewed the secret U.S. policy on interrogation and evaluated it with the advice of the doctors who oversee the process. “Our policies are not torture,” he said, defining torture as “excruciatingly painful to the point of forcing someone to say something because of the pain.”

Asked specifically about waterboarding, McConnell appears to suggest waterboarding would be torture, but he then backtracks.

“If I had water draining into my nose, oh God, I just can’t imagine how painful!” McConnell says. “Whether it’s torture by anybody else’s definition, for me it would be torture.” Asked later about that comment, McConnell says he did not mean to suggest he personally condemned it. “You can do waterboarding lots of different ways,” he says. “I assume you can get to the point that a person is actually drowning.” Yet McConnell declined to be more specific, because “if it ever is determined to be torture, there will be a huge penalty to be paid for anyone engaging in it.”

On McConnell’s apparent equivocation on waterboarding, CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said in a statement today that, McConnell’s comments amount to “a very strong endorsement of the value of CIA’s detention and interrogation program,” noting that McConnell also said the interrogation program has saved “tons” of lives. Mansfield added that the procedures have been deemed lawful by the Department of Justice, approved by the National Security Council, and shared with congressional intelligence committees.

McConnell, a South Carolina native, also reveals that he fancies himself a fabulous dancer.

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01-15-2008, 09:22 PM
"drafting a plan to protect America’s cyberspace"

What exactly is "America's cyberspace"?

I thought the Internet was, you know, borderless and shit.

Of course, this is classic too:

"the government must have the ability to read all the information crossing the Internet in the United States"