For Sale on eBay: A Military Database of Fingerprints and Iris Scans


“This should not have happened,” Mr. Baker stated. “It is a disaster for the people whose data is exposed. In the worst cases, the consequences could be fatal.”


What we take into account earlier than utilizing nameless sources. Do the sources know the data? What’s their motivation for telling us? Have they proved dependable previously? Can we corroborate the data? Even with these questions glad, The Times makes use of nameless sources as a final resort. The reporter and no less than one editor know the identification of the supply.

Of the six gadgets the researchers purchased on eBay — 4 SEEKs and two HIIDEs, for Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment — two of the SEEK II gadgets had delicate information on them. The second SEEK II, with location metadata exhibiting it was final utilized in Jordan in 2013, appeared to include the fingerprints and iris scans of a small group of U.S. service members.

When reached by The Times, one American whose biometric scan was discovered on the machine confirmed that the info was doubtless his. He beforehand served as a Marine intelligence specialist and stated his information, and that of every other American discovered on these gadgets, was more than likely collected throughout a navy coaching course. The man, who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of he nonetheless works within the intelligence discipline and was not approved to talk publicly, requested that his biometric file be deleted.

Military officers stated the one purpose these gadgets would have information on Americans could be their use throughout coaching classes, a standard apply to arrange for using them within the discipline.

According to the Defense Logistics Agency, which handles the disposal of thousands and thousands of {dollars} of extra Pentagon matériel annually, gadgets just like the SEEK II and the HIIDE by no means ought to have made it to the open market — a lot much less a web-based public sale web site like eBay. Instead, all biometric assortment gear is meant to be destroyed on web site when not wanted by navy personnel, as are different digital gadgets that after held delicate operational data.

How eBay sellers obtained these gadgets is unclear. The machine with the two,632 profiles was bought by Rhino Trade, a surplus gear firm in Texas. The firm’s treasurer, David Mendez, stated it had purchased the SEEK II at an public sale of presidency gear and didn’t notice a decommissioned navy machine would have delicate information on it.

“I hope we didn’t do anything wrong,” he stated.

The SEEK II with the American troops’ data got here from Tech-Mart, an eBay vendor in Ohio. Tech-Mart’s proprietor, Ayman Arafa, declined to say how he had acquired it, or two different gadgets he bought to the researchers.



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