CBP installs RFID readers on border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin installing Radio Frequency Identification readers next week at the U.S. Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz., as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, officials said.

The devices are believed to be the first RFID readers to be permanently installed at a U.S. border entry point along the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of the new travel document requirements that become effective in June 2009.

The RFID readers will be used to read travel documents that include the newly produced U.S. Passport Card, which has an RFID tag. The technology allows the RFID tags to be read wirelessly by the RFID readers at distances of 20 to 30 feet. To protect privacy, the passport cards will contain a reference number that must be checked against a secure Homeland Security Department database to obtain personal information on the card holder.

CBP officials also have said RFID readers will also be used for the Sentri and Nexus trusted traveler programs. Those programs provide identification cards to prescreened Mexican and Canadian residents who frequently cross the U.S. borders.

The RFID reader installations will take place in the four vehicle lanes at the port over two weeks, according to a news release.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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