Hollywood movies often depict high-tech biometric systems that can scan your face, eyes, or fingerprints from a surveillance camera and instantly pull up all of your information. Most people take this type of technology to be science fiction, doubting that the technology that we have today is cable of such feats. However, the truth is that it is not only capable, but this technology already exists.

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It seems that the FBI has finally decided stop denying the public access to secrets it has discovered throughout its existence; or at the very least, secret documents on events which happened quite a while ago. What we’re talking about here is the FBI’s vault project, which is a searchable database the bureau launched containing documents on figures and events such as Al Capone, Notorious B.I.G., the 9/11 hijacking, and even the mythical Roswell events.

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screenshot_01If you’re a wanted criminal, choose your Farmville neighbors wisely. Instead of peeking over a picket fence at the strawberry patch belonging to the mysterious red-head who just friended you on Facebook, you could be looking through steel bars straight at the FBI agent that caught you.

According to an FBI document redacted by Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group, the FBI is using social networking sites to gather information on those suspected of illicit activity, known witnesses to crimes, and people who are targets of crime.

But the FBI is able to access a bit more information on a person than the average Tweeter. Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the FBI agents can prompt a social networking site like Facebook, Myspace, or LinkedIn to send a request in order to view confidential information such as private inbox messages.

The FBI document states that such information can be helpful in proving or disproving alibis, locating a suspect, discovering connections and relationships between people, and detecting the existence of a crime or a crime in the making.

Should your welfare ever depend on a criminal being caught using MySpace or Twitter, you’re probably out of luck. According to the document, MySpace requires a search warrant to view private inbox messages less than 181 days old.  Though Twitter also requires a subpoena or search warrant, it gives no contact information for law enforcement officials to use in order to demand information and retains only the IP address of the latest login. Facebook, on the other hand, usually cooperates with law enforcement officials.

So if you’re running from the law, maybe collecting cyber friends isn’t such a good idea–you might end up with a federal agent on your tail.

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Naiz Khan, a Manhattan coffee cart operator currently under 24 hour FBI surveillance

Naiz Khan, a coffee cart operator in Manhattan, is currently under 24 hour surveillance after the FBI was able to possibly tie him to another terrorist named Najibullah Zazi. Zazi was at the center of an alleged bombing plot. Khan let Zazi stay at his home on the night of September 10th and he was also in Pakistan with Zazi at the same time. When police raided Khan’s apartment they found several suspicious black book bags and a small scale which they believed could be used to measure bomb ingredients.

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