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    Department of Homeland Security Testimony on Biometric Identification

    The Department of Homeland Security released the prepared “Testimony of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Kathleen Kraninger, Screening Coordination, and Director Robert A. Mocny, US-VISIT, National Protection and Programs Directorate, before the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Homeland Security, ‘Biometric Identification.'” A couple of interesting sections discussed future plans for biometric ID and privacy questions:

    The Future of Biometric Screening

    Biometrics offer real opportunities to dramatically increase the efficiency of identifying people. The Department is researching emerging technologies to expand our screening and identification capabilities. We recognize that future identity management systems will require increased assurance, efficiency, ease of use, and flexibility.

    As DHS implements biometric exit procedures, both at airports and land border [Points of Entry], we are looking for more efficient, less invasive technologies to verify visitors’ departures. Particularly at the land border, we are looking for technologies that might meet our needs better than requiring visitors to have their fingerprints scanned while driving at speed through a POE.

    In some cases, the key to expanding biometric screening is to bring the technology to remote locations where decision-makers need it.

    • For example, Coast Guard is using mobile biometric collection and analysis capabilities on the high seas off the coasts of Puerto Rico and Florida. This project has helped the Coast Guard identify and refer for prosecution and/or administrative immigration proceedings hundreds of repeat illegal migrants who are ineligible to enter the United States, including some wanted for human smuggling and murder.
    • In addition, [Custom and Border Protection’s] Air and Marine Operations is examining opportunities to use mobile biometrics to its areas of operation. […]

    US-VISIT Privacy

    DHS is committed to adhering to the strictest privacy standards. DHS only collects information needed to achieve the program objectives and mission and only uses this information in a manner consistent with the purpose for which it was collected. DHS also conducts periodic audits of its systems to ensure appropriate use within the limitations of the Privacy Act.

    Ultimately, the success of the US-VISIT program will be measured by not only our ability to identify those who may present a threat, but also our ability to protect against identity theft and fraud. We are acutely aware that our success depends on how well we are able to protect the privacy of those whose biometrics we hold. A breach of this most personal data would undermine the public’s trust. We have a dedicated privacy officer responsible for ensuring compliance with privacy laws and procedures and for creating a culture of privacy protection within the US-VISIT Program. Furthermore, we are transparent. From the beginning, we made clear that the information gathered by DHS or State will be used only for the purposes for which it was collected, consistent with those uses authorized or mandated by law. Our policy extends to non-U.S. citizens most of the same privacy protections we give by law to U.S. citizens. We regularly publish privacy impact assessments and system of records notices to provide people with a clear view of the information we collect, how we store it, and our policies and practices to ensure it is not abused.

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