Feds Now Collecting Iris Scans For Massive Database


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Ted Goodman Contributor
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The FBI struck a series of information sharing agreements with other federal agencies in an effort to compile a nationwide database of iris scans, according to a report by The Verge.

The FBI deployed the Iris Pilot program in September 2013 to, “evaluate technology, address key challenges, and develop a system capable of performing iris image recognition services.” The FBI asserts that the program will create a national iris repository that will increase the usability of iris bio-metrics.

The U.S. Border Patrol, the Pentagon, and local law enforcement departments across the country now have information sharing agreements with the FBI in order to compile iris scans. While California is the leader in collecting scans, agencies in Texas and Missouri can also add to and search the system, according to The Verge.

The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department is one of the most active players in the program, collecting iris data from more than 200,000 arrestees since the beginning of 2014.  The department is averaging 189 iris scans each day in 2016, according to documents obtained by the Verge.

The development of national iris-scanning database hearkens back to the 2002 film”Minority Report,” where eye-scanning is ubiquitous. In real life, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, set to be released in a matter of weeks, is rumored to have iris-scanning technology.


A person’s iris is a unique, complex random pattern just like a fingerprint. The advantage of iris scans over fingerprints is that it can be analyzed much faster and without physical contact. The technology has been automated and available for under a decade, so there is a need for continued research and testing, according to the FBI.

The U.S. government first utilized iris scanning technology in Iraq, for soldiers to track locals who were authorized to work on U.S. military installations. The technology was always considered too expensive and unnecessary for domestic police use.

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Ted Goodman