Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Foreign Visitors to Give More Biometric Data at US Airports

In an effort to boost security, foreign visitors to the United States must now provide extra biometric identification data when they arrive in the country.

All non-US citizens between the ages of 14 and 79 are now required to leave ten digital fingerprints, instead of two, and a photograph when they arrive at US airports or apply for a visa.

Washington Dulles International Airport was the first airport to introduce the new measure, on November 29. Over the coming months nine other major US hubs will introduce the scheme, with the remaining 278 airports following during the course of next year. It is planned that all US airports will have the system in place by the end of 2008.

Data Will Improve Airport Security

The scheme involves people's fingerprints and photograph being matched against a list containing the details of known or suspected terroritsts, people who have broken immigration laws and criminals on the run.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) believes the enhanced biometric technology will enable security at US airports to be significantly improved.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff commented: "Anyone who has watched the news or seen crimes solved on television shows can appreciate the power of biometrics".

"Biometrics tell the story that the unknown terrorist tries to conceal and it causes them to question whether they've ever left a print behind," he continued.

Chertoff added that the enahnced technology will also improve efficiences at immigration control at US airports. He said: "They help the legitimate traveller proceed more quickly while protecting their identity and enable our frontline personnel to focus even greater attention on potential security risks".

Source - Airport International's US Correspondent

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