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The U.S. will store biometric data on over 250 million people on Amazon Cloud

The U.S. will store biometric data on over 250 million people on Amazon Cloud
[Photo: Taylor Vick/Unsplash]

For years the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has used a legacy biometric analysis platform called Automated Biometric Identification System, or IDENT, to store and sort through biometric and biographic data including fingerprint, iris, and face data on 250 million people. The IDENT system stored those records in government-run data centers.

But now Homeland Security is planning to replace IDENT with its successor, the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology System, or HART. HART will contain all the biometric and biographic data of its predecessor, but in addition, it may eventually contain tools that identify a person’s DNA, palm prints, scars, physical markings, and tattoos. Another difference between IDENT and HART is that instead of having a person’s biometric data stored in government-run data centers, HART’s data will be stored on Amazon’s Web Services platform, reports NextGov:

Whereas IDENT stores records in government-run data centers, the Homeland Security solicitation states “HART will reside in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) FedRAMP certified GovCloud.” Further, “biometric matching capabilities for fingerprint, iris, and facial matching will be integrated with HART in the Amazon Web Services GovCloud.” Amazon Web Services will also store HART’s biometric image data.

If it makes you nervous that the place where you buy your books from is also likely storing your most sensitive biometric data, it really shouldn’t. HART is just the latest information database from a government agency that Amazon has won the contract to store on its servers.

The CIA, the Defense Department, NASA, and other government agencies already use AWS to store sensitive data because Amazon’s cloud solutions are seen as more secure than legacy government systems. Other major organizations that use AWS include Netflix and Apple.

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