A recent disclosure by WikiLeaks of tens of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables includes instructions to US diplomats to collect biometric information on 'key civilian and military officials' including 'fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans'.
The 'national human intelligence collection directive' was issued under Hilary Clinton's name in April 2009 and calls for highly detailed personal information concerning members of Rwandan, Congolese, and Burundian society. The cable detailed the need for the collection of 'biographic and biometric data' including 'health' and 'ethnicity'. It stated: 'Data should include email addresses, telephone and fax numbers, fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans'.
Africa was not the only region to be targeted by the information collection order - in October 2008, diplomats based in the Middle East were asked to obtain '(b)iographical, financial and biometric information' on 'key (Palestinian Authority) and HAMAS leaders and representatives to include the young guard inside Gaza, the West Bank and outside'.
The reasoning behind such personal data acquisition is to extract information from 'regional groups, blocs, or coalitions on issues before the General Assembly', said the cable. But Wired.com says it is unclear how a fingerprint is able to reveal someone's voting strategy.
The directive also details the need to acquire forensic technical details and biometric information on 'key UN officials' including representatives from China, Russia, France, and the UK. Information on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's 'management and decision-making style and his influence on the secretariat' was also sought after.