Border security/biometricsDHS testing iris scan technology at border crossings
DHS is beginning a 2-week trial of iris scanning technology at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, where they will be used on illegal immigrants; a new generation of cameras that capture images from six feet away instead of a few inches; DHS will test cameras that take photos from 3 or 4 feet away, including one that works on people as they walk by; the ACLU is raising objections, saying the cameras could be used covertly
DHS will beginning testing walk-by iris scanners // Source: blogspot.com
DHS plans to test futuristic iris scan technology that stores digital images of people’s eyes in a database and is considered a quicker alternative to fingerprints. The department will run a 2-week test in October of commercially sold iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, where they will be used on illegal immigrants, said Arun Vemury, program manager at the department’s Science and Technology branch. “The test will help us determine how viable this is for potential (department) use in the future,” Vemury said.
USA Today’s Thomas Frank quotes Patrick Grother, a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) computer scientist, to say that iris scanners are little used, but a new generation of cameras that capture images from six feet away instead of a few inches has sparked interest from government agencies and financial firms. The technology also has sparked objections from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
ACLU lawyer Christopher Calabrese fears that the cameras could be used covertly. “If you can identify any individual at a distance and without their knowledge, you literally allow the physical tracking of a person anywhere there’s a camera and access to the Internet,” he told Frank.
Iris scans can be quicker than fingerprints. “You can walk up to a wall-mounted box, look at the camera, and that’s it,” Grother said.
DHS will test cameras that take photos from 3 or 4 feet away, including one that works on people as they walk by, Vemury said.
In 2007 the U.S. military began taking iris scans of thousands of Iraqis to track suspected militants. The technology was used in about twenty U.S. airports from 2005 to 2008 to identify passengers in the Registered Traveler program, who could skip to the front of security lines.
Financial companies hope the scans can stop identity fraud, said Jeff Carter of Global Rainmakers, a New York City firm developing the technology. “Iris is going to completely reshape the fraud environment,” he said.