FBI, DHS launch third fingerprint system data-sharing pilot

The government's massive, technologically ambitious project to achieve connectivity between two critical biometric databases took a step forward as the Homeland Security Department and the FBI unveiled an additional pilot project.

The project to achieve information sharing between the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and the Homeland Security's Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) database dates back in various forms for many years and is planned to extend forward for several years.

IDENT contains millions of two-fingerprint records gathered by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, which now is part of DHS.

The FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg, W.Va, maintains IAFIS to service customers in the federal, state and local law enforcement communities, the intelligence community, and other authorized users of federal fingerprint data. IAFIS' 10-fingerprint records date back in millions of cases to the dawn of federal fingerprint collection, ushered in by the bureau in the last century.

The technological core of the data-sharing project involves modifications to the fingerprint comparison engines of the databases, among other changes. The bureau and the department already exchange data about each other's 'worst of the worst' criminal suspects, fugitives and immigration law violators.

Two existing pilots, in the Boston Police Department and the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, started testing the data exchange technology last year.

The new pilot, which started operation on Feb. 1, will allow the sheriff's office in Harris County, Texas, to tap into additional IDENT records.

In a joint press statement, the bureau and the department said that the Harris County Sheriff's Office already had 'booked a person for assault causing bodily injury to a family member and submitted the fingerprints for a background check.

'Despite previous use of nine aliases and four different dates of birth, the person's fingerprints revealed a lengthy criminal and immigration history, including deportation proceedings; entered without inspection; probation violation; driving while intoxicated; fraud in connection with an immigration document; supervised release violator; and assault,' FBI and DHS said. The new system automatically advised the law enforcement officers of the criminal history, the agencies said, facilitating state and federal prosecution of the accused

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