New spy tech agency developing advanced biometrics systems

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which was developed by the US Pentagon in 1958, following the shock caused by the successful launch of Soviet satellite Sputnik, is well known. What is much less well known is the corresponding agency for the US intelligence community: IARPA. Its initials stand for Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, and its mission is to work under the Director of National Intelligence to create hi-tech applications for America’s intelligence agencies. Established quietly in 2007, IARPA is currently located at the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL), but is projected to move to a new facility at the University’s College Park before the end of 2009. Its annual budget is $3 billion dollars and it employs just 56 intelligence experts, mostly from CIA. Since its inception, IARPA has been working on a number of interesting project areas, including speech recognition, electronic translation, biometrics and network security applications, among others. It recently announced that it is working on a number of new biometrics systems than can perform iris and face scans from afar and “under uncontrolled acquisition conditions”, which Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog interprets to mean “getting this face and eye data, even when the subject is moving and the lighting is all wrong”. The project is called Biometrics Exploitation Science and Technology (BEST), and its stated minimum objective is “to exceed by a factor of three what is commercially available today”.

About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

We welcome informed comments and corrections. Comments attacking or deriding the author(s), instead of addressing the content of articles, will NOT be approved for publication.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: