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To the Highest Bidder: A Military Database of Fingerprints, Iris Scans


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SEEK II purchased by German researchers on eBay

The Defense Logistics Agency says the SEEK II never should have made it to the open market.

Credit: Andreas Meichsner / The New York Times

German security researcher Matthias Marx successfully bid on eBay for a Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit, or SEEK II, which contained the names, nationalities, photographs, fingerprints, and iris scans of 2,632 people, mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq. Many were known terrorists and wanted individuals but others appeared to be people who had worked with the U.S. government or had been stopped at checkpoints.

Over the past year, Marx and other researchers at the Chaos Computer Club, a European hacker association, bought six biometric capture devices on eBay, most for less than 200 Euro (USD214). Of the six, two of the SEEK II devices had sensitive data on them. The second SEEK II, with location metadata showing it was last used in Jordan in 2013, appeared to contain the fingerprints and iris scans of U.S. service members.

"It was disturbing that they didn't even try to protect the data," Marx said, referring to the U.S. military. "They didn't care about the risk, or they ignored the risk."

From The New York Times
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