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ICE issues annual report. So where are details on biometrics programs?

ICE issues annual report. So where are details on biometrics programs?
 

U.S. immigration officials have released their latest annual report which, from a biometrics standpoint, is notable for its lack of information on identity verification programs.

Searching the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s 75-page fiscal ’22 annual report for the word biometric turns up one result.

About 11,500 people were enrolled in an ICE biometric database during the year ended September 30.

Facial, fingerprint and iris recognition could be used in any number of roles, from border control to transnational financial crime, but if they are deployed beyond a few missions publicized by officials last year, it was not deemed worthy of being detailed in the report.

For most people, ICE’s big move into biometrics has been its decision to contract with GEO Group for face-scanning monitor products and services under the Smartlink brand. It is an alternative to detention for would-be migrants who are judged to be compliant and little risk to communities.

It works on a phone provided by the government. Proponents say required check-ins and court reminders in theory can be done more rapidly and efficiently.

Smartlink has its detractors (it reportedly collects a lot of personal data and still makes asylum-seekers feel like criminals, which they are not), it is a new program and it is a flyspeck in ICE’s $8 billion budget. But it is hard to understand why it could not get a spotlight.

ICE’s parent, the Department of Homeland Security, also has awarded a contract to face-scraper subscription service Clearview AI. ICE reportedly is using the facial recognition service to rescue children from sexual abuse.

Yet, no mention of this program – with a potential pool of 4.7 million would-be immigrants — is made.

There is little doubt that some of the activities written of in the report involve facial recognition and other biometric identification tools.

ICE’s Cyber Crimes Center claims in the report to have rescued 1,170 children in the fiscal year alone, for example.

Maybe facial recognition has become so interwoven into the fabric of ICE’s operations, it no longer requires mentioning.

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