The New York TimesThe New York Times

For sale on eBay: A military database of fingerprints and iris scans

By Kashmir Hill, John Ismay, Christopher F. Schuetze and Aaron Krolik

27 Dec 2022 · 7 min read

Editor's Note

A German security researcher got more than he bargained for when he successfully bid for an electronic enrollment kit on eBay. The NYT reports on an embarrassing episode for the U.S. military.

The shoebox-shaped device, designed to capture fingerprints and perform iris scans, was listed on eBay for $149.95. A German security researcher, Matthias Marx, successfully offered $68, and when it arrived at his home in Hamburg in August, the rugged, hand-held machine contained more than what was promised in the listing.

The device’s memory card held the names, nationalities, photographs, fingerprints and iris scans of 2,632 people.

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