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The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.
More than 55 percent of the search requests now are made for background checks on civilians in sensitive positions in the federal government, and jobs that involve children and the elderly, Bush said. Currently those prints are destroyed or returned when the checks are completed. But the FBI is planning a "rap-back" service, under which employers could ask the FBI to keep employees' fingerprints in the database, subject to state privacy laws, so that if that employees are ever arrested or charged with a crime, the employers would be notified.