Group issues final biometrics report

International Biometric Group

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The International Biometric Group has presented its final report on using biometric technologies to secure the nation's borders to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The International Biometric Group, a consulting firm based in New York, conducted interviews and observed visa issuance procedures at home and abroad to prepare its 200-page report. It also examined Immigration and Naturalization Service operations at airports, seaports and border crossings.

New counterterrorism laws, including the USA Patriot Act and Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, require authorities to use biometrics to detect immigration fraud. Biometric technologies, such as fingerprint readers and iris scanners, use parts of the body that cannot be altered to identify people.

Among the report's recommendations:

* The United States should design a solution that incorporates other countries' choices of biometrics. The United States, for example, may prefer fingerprint readers because they can interact with existing law enforcement databases, while another country chooses facial recognition or iris scanners.

* The State Department should capture multiple biometric identifiers from every person who applies for a U.S. visa, including high-quality face, fingerprint and iris scans.

* Biometrics used at a port of entry should augment, not replace, an inspector's judgment in deciding whether to admit someone.

* Use tethered portable fingerprint devices in traffic lanes at border crossings to easily read fingerprints from everyone in a car.

In a similar study recently, the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology suggested that a combination of fingerprint and facial-recognition technologies would be the most secure. NIST suggested using at least two fingerprints to identify each visa applicant, and a combination of fingerprint and facial recognition to verify the identity of visa holders crossing borders.

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