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U.S. Homeland Security looks for interoperability on biometrics


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security uses a number of international fingerprint databases to identify individuals, and continues to explore new avenues regarding the use of biometrics for identification.

Reported by Fierce Homeland Security, Robert Mocny, director of the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) spoke of DHS biometric efforts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies event on the future of homeland security.

“What we found was the phenomenon of US-VISIT back in 2004 that was somewhat pilloried by a lot of other countries is now being replicated across the globe,” Mocny said.

US-VISIT is a DHS immigration and border management system and as reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, has been using a biometric system since 2004 to secure the U.S. border. The US-VISIT program starting out collecting two fingerprints as a basis of comparison against criminal and terrorist watch lists and upgraded to a 10-prints system in 2008.

The U.S., along with the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand currently share fingerprint information through the “Five Country Conference.”

Fingerprint biometrics is the standard used for US-VISIT, but that does not preclude them to add other modes like iris scanning and facial recognition. In fact, iris scanning was pilot tested in 2010 in McAllen, Texas, and that test had been deemed a success.

As we’ve previously reported, Mocny is an advocate for increased cooperation in biometrics-based security standards.

Currently, Global Entry, which is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program, allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Eligible participants present their passports at Global Entry kiosks and then have their fingerprints scanned for verification.

Recently, Australia’s SmartGate border control system — which uses a combination of biometric data in epassports along with facial recognition — was made available  to U.S. Global Entry members.

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