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DHS moving biometrics database to Amazon Cloud

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun the process of migrating the nation’s biometric information database to the Amazon Cloud as part of a new system updating the federal government’s decades-old database.

A privacy impact assessment drafted by DHS officials in February and first reported upon its publication this week by Nextgov indicated that the project will consist of four phases, with the majority of the government’s existing database being migrated to cloud-based storage in the first phase.

The time frame for such a task was not clear, but will mean that information such as facial recognition data, fingerprints, Social Security numbers and other identifying information will soon be hosted on Amazon’s cloud-based service.

Efforts to manage that data migration will be handled by Northrop Grumman under a $95 million contract, Nextgov separately reported. The new system will be dubbed Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART), and replaces the 1994 Automated Biometric Identification System system.

“HART Increment 1 will include migration to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud, and will provide mission partners a biometric matching capability based on multiple biometric modalities (fingerprint (including latent prints), face (including a photo), and iris), and additional means by which to identify an individual such as a unique identifier,” reads the DHS assessment.

Some Amazon employees have in the past opposed the company’s work with law enforcement and specifically facial recognition software. In 2018, a group of employees urged Amazon to cease doing business with companies that service Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid criticism of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Tags data cloud Department of Homeland Security

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