Federal agents could be barred from launching investigations based on religion, ancestry, sexual orientation or gender under expanded rules against profiling being considered by the Department of Justice, a government official said.

The rules, first reported in The New York Times on Wednesday and confirmed by NBC News, come after years of pressure from civil rights groups who said agents were allowed to target Latinos for immigration cases and American Muslims in terror investigations.

Racial profiling was banned by the Bush administration in 2003 but did not apply to a person's religion or national origin, and excluded matters of national security.

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