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DHS investing in biometrics data storage to enhance customs enforcement


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is deploying biometrics data storage and surveillance to improve customs enforcement and make it easier for international travelers, according to a report by GCN.

International air travel processing increased by 35.9 percent from fiscal year 2009 to 2016, according to the DHS.

The DHS’ Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is implementing advanced technologies such as facial recognition software to keep pace with this rising demand for services.

“We are working on facial recognition in a program being done in Atlanta, which has been really sunny for us with high match rates,” Daniel Tanciar, deputy executive director of CBP’s policy, program analysis and evaluation office of field operations, said.

CBP’s use of biometric technologies will make it more convenient for both travelers and airport employees who must show and review passports at various checkpoints throughout the airport.

“We realized that we could pull that data and have a small gallery of evidence so travelers don’t need to show their documents so many times,” Tanciar said. “That is the future, and we also make it work … for inbound processing.”

William Snelson, associate director for operations at the U.S. Marshals Service, also thinks that biometrics could help advance the law enforcement agency.

However, Snelson said the agency has a “need to get better at technology” before it implements it on a wider level.

“It is going to be extraordinarily difficult to hide witnesses in plain sight with biometrics,” Snelson said. “The explosion of information on the web about individuals that we protect and the inability of those individuals to lessen their profile doesn’t help us. It is going to be a big conversation moving forward.”

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