The FBI’s Electronic Verification of Identity: A Powerful Tool in Modern Law Enforcement

In the ever-evolving landscape of law enforcement, electronic verification plays a pivotal role in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) mission to protect the United States from criminal threats and safeguard national security. By utilizing a combination of cutting-edge technologies and databases, the FBI has strengthened its ability to detect, track, and apprehend criminals while respecting the boundaries of privacy and civil rights. In this article, we delve into the various ways the FBI employs electronic identity verification, using statistics to highlight the effectiveness of these methods.

Biometric Data

Biometric data is a cornerstone of the FBI’s electronic identity verification arsenal. This technology includes the collection and analysis of fingerprints, facial recognition, and iris scans. With an extensive database of biometric information, the FBI can compare an individual’s biometric features with records in the system, providing a powerful means to identify and track down criminals, especially wanted fugitives.

In September 2021, the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) contained over 200 million fingerprint records. This vast resource has contributed significantly to solving crimes and locating individuals with criminal histories.

Criminal Databases

The FBI’s access to criminal databases is instrumental in electronic identity verification. Notably, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) are invaluable resources. These databases store criminal records, fingerprints, and other pertinent data, aiding law enforcement agencies in identifying and locating individuals with criminal backgrounds.

In 2019, the NCIC processed over 25 million requests daily, highlighting the sheer volume of data that law enforcement agencies rely on to verify the identities of individuals and investigate potential threats.

Secure Communication

Maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information is paramount for the FBI. The agency employs robust encryption and secure communication protocols to ensure that data related to ongoing investigations and individuals under surveillance remains protected from unauthorized access.

According to the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), the FBI’s cybersecurity efforts have been commendable, with continuous improvements. In 2020, the FBI reported a compliance rate of 97.2% for its information security programs.

Surveillance and Monitoring

Electronic surveillance techniques, including wiretaps and tracking devices, are crucial for monitoring the activities and communications of individuals suspected of criminal involvement. This enables the FBI to gather evidence and intelligence necessary for building cases against suspects.

In 2020, the FBI conducted over 4,000 authorized electronic surveillance activities, reflecting the extensive use of these techniques in law enforcement investigations.

Background Checks

Background checks are a fundamental component of the FBI’s electronic identity verification efforts. These checks are conducted on individuals seeking employment in sensitive positions, government roles, or those applying for security clearances. The aim is to ensure that applicants are who they claim to be and to uncover any criminal or security concerns.

In the fiscal year 2020, the FBI conducted over 1.9 million background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), preventing individuals with disqualifying criminal records from acquiring firearms.

Financial Transactions

The FBI’s electronic identity verification service is also employed in financial investigations to trace money flows and transactions related to criminal activities. Tracking the movement of funds is instrumental in identifying and apprehending individuals involved in various forms of financial crimes, including money laundering. According to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report, the agency received over 100,000 complaints related to financial crimes, with reported losses exceeding $1.8 billion. These statistics illustrate the scope of financial investigations necessary to combat such crimes.


Maintaining watchlists is a critical aspect of the FBI’s efforts to enhance electronic identity verification. These watchlists contain the names and identities of individuals considered threats to national security or those with known criminal affiliations. Electronic identity verification helps screen and identify individuals on these watchlists at various points of entry and during routine law enforcement interactions.

Data Analysis and Pattern Recognition

Advanced data analysis and pattern recognition tools are integral to the FBI’s electronic identity verification methods. These technologies can identify suspicious patterns of behavior, connections between individuals, and potential threats by examining electronic records and communications. In 2020, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division processed over 27 million fingerprint transactions daily, demonstrating the immense volume of data that these tools analyze to detect and track criminals.

The FBI’s use of electronic identity verification is an indispensable tool in modern law enforcement. By employing biometric data, criminal databases, secure communication, surveillance, online investigations, background checks, financial transactions analysis, watchlists, and advanced data analysis, the FBI can efficiently and effectively detect, track, and apprehend criminals while safeguarding national security..

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