DHS seeks communications professionals to explain biometrics to public

April 18, 2017 - 

The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to hire communications professionals to convey the often complicated message of biometrics to the general public, according to a report by NextGov.com.

DHS recently posted a request for information (RFI) for a professional communications services on behalf of its Office of Biometric Identity Management, which manages the largest biometrics database in the federal government.

The massive repository allows the agency to compare travelers’ fingerprints, iris scans and other biometric identifiers to a watchlist of suspected terrorists and criminals.

The RFI states that the OBIM requires a communications strategy that “address[es] the potential risks and concerns the public may have regarding the collection and use of biometrics within the government”.

“Given the public’s general fear that the government collects too much information on individuals, there may be limited understanding of the purpose for biometric collection and utilization,” the RFI said. “There are many opportunities to “assure the public that OBIM will use biometric information for the purposes of identifying known or suspected terrorists, criminals, and immigration violators.”

The RFI emphasizes that the selected communications professionals should represent OBIM as an industry leader in biometrics collection and analysis and as a “pioneer to shape the landscape and perception of biometrics.”

The communications team would need to explain the importance of the advanced biometric data collection and the lengths to which its data might be used, with “increasing visibility and urgency placed on protecting the nation’s infrastructure,” according to the RFI.

In addition, the RFI states that the communications professionals circulate information about identity standards and biometrics collection protocols in an “engaging and easily digestible manner”.

At first, the communications team will have to focus on two main systems, the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) and Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology.

IDENT retains biographical data for individuals related to national security, immigration and intelligence concerns, along with employment-related background checks, while Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology is the planned replacement for the aforementioned system.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.