US plans to use biodata to protect its borders

2020-09-03 03:17:15 GMT2020-09-03 11:17:15(Beijing Time) Sina English
US President Donald President Trump and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.  US President Donald President Trump and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

The Trump administration announced plans on Tuesday to expand the collection of personal “biometric” information by the agency in charge of immigration enforcement, raising concerns about civil liberties and data protection.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said it would soon issue a formal proposal for a new regulation for expanding “the authorities and methods” for collecting biometrics, which are physical characteristics such as fingerprints used to identify individuals.

US Customs and Border Protection, part of the DHS, already collects biometric data, including iris scans, from people captured trying to enter the country without legal authority.

DHS said in a written statement that the new rule would authorize new techniques, including voice and facial recognition to verify people’s identity.

The agency did not release the proposed regulation or provide details. BuzzFeed News, which obtained a draft of the policy, reported earlier Tuesday that it included a provision for US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is also a component of DHS, to collect biometric data from non-citizens legally working and living in the US or seeking to do so.

It would also require US citizens sponsoring relatives to come to the country to provide biometric data, including in some cases their DNA, if it was needed to verify someone’s identity.

“This is a remarkable expansion of surveillance, especially the idea that immigrants could be called in at any point to give these biometrics,” said Sarah Pierce, an analyst with the Migration Policy Institute.

It typically takes several months for a new regulation to take effect after a public comment period. This measure is likely to prompt legal challenges, as have most immigration measures introduced under President Donald Trump.

Acting deputy DHS secretary Ken Cuccinelli characterized the new regulation in a written statement as a way to improve the verification of people’s identities and modernize operations.

“Leveraging readily available technology to verify the identity of an individual we are screening is responsible governing,” Cuccinelli said.


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