February 3, 2015 -
This is a guest post by Janice Kephart, founder of the Secure Identity & Biometrics Association (SIBA).
In October 2014 the Air Entry Exit Working Group was formed by my organization, the Secure Identity & Biometrics Association with the Security Industry Association and sixteen private sector companies including 3M, L-3 Communications, Vision-Box and others. Today, the Working Group includes the Document Security Alliance as well as MorphoTrust and CrossMatch.
The latest brouhaha in Congress over border security has the Working Group deeply involved. We are working closely with Congress on biometric exit legislation – including the most recent H.R. 399 “Border Security First” bill passed last week out of House Homeland Security Committee by Chairman McCaul. H.R. 399 was quickly spiked by House leadership from an equally quick proposal for a floor vote next week when pressure mounted on many sides, including on biometric exit by land port operators as reported this past week. We worked for the changes that brought the current language in keeping with current law (prior drafts would have enabled the biometric exit requirement to potentially never be implemented). We also publicly released a letter of support at the Chairman’s request of the provisions, detailing the value of the provisions to enhancing national security in an era of ever-increasing terrorist threat.
Background. The Working Group was formed in response to black box style biometric entry-exit immigration airport testing and preparation at two different program offices at the Department of Homeland Security, neither of which are including industry in potential solution sets. We did not see, collectively, how DHS could produce a cutting-edge, cost-effective solution without ongoing and open conversations with industry about government needs with industry able to answer with its never-ending continuum of developing and proven biometric solutions.
On November 17, 2014, our Working Group released a ten page document “Identity and Biometric Entry and Exit Solutions Framework for Airports”. The Framework reviews biometric entry-exit statutory requirements, current program office policy goals, and how the Working Group can support DHS going forward in fulfilling statutory law and DHS policy goals while enhancing traveler facilitation, national security and immigration integrity simultaneously. The Framework speaks at length of improvements necessary at entry to assure that an individual presenting a passport is the rightful owner of that passport, and how industry can help develop and implement an exit program that is both secure and relatively seamless to travelers. With signatures by both myself and the Don Erickson, Security Industries Association president, the Framework was transmitted by formal letter to the Undersecretary of Science & Technology, Dr. Reginald Brothers, at DHS on the same date as its release.
There is no doubt this will continue to be a contentious year for immigration and border security issues, and with biometric exit one of the few – and definitely the highest profile – 9/11 Commission border recommendations yet to be implemented, it will continue to be on the frontline of the immigration battlefield. With a strong coalition of all the major players in biometrics, identity and document security, our Working Group takes seriously its leadership position. Our members have the solutions to make exit take shape soon and cost-effectively while enhancing travel safety and security with little inconvenience. We look forward to the challenge of convincing others of what we can do.
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