CBP starts mobile biometric exit trial in Atlanta
16 July 2015 10:25 GMT

US Customs and Border Protection has begun testing an enhanced mobile device that will collect biometric data from a limited number of foreign national air travelers departing the United States at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Officers will compare biometrics collected via the handheld device to the biometrics collected when the traveller entered, the body revealed in a statement.

“CBP is relentless in its pursuit of new and innovative technology that will assist officers in their efforts to provide national security and efficiently facilitate trade and travel through our nation’s ports of entry,” said Office of Field Operations Assistant Commissioner Todd Owen. “Thorough testing will ensure that we deploy the right technology in a way that enhances security, protects privacy and improves the process.”

The new scanners have the potential to enhance existing tools and to confirm the departure of a foreign traveler using biometric verification, the release said.

CBP confirmed in a statement to Planet Biometrics that travelers will be randomly selected to provide a statistical sampling as they are preparing to board the plane in the passenger loading bridge. For example, CBP officers could select every tenth foreign national air traveler.

"CBP is committed to developing a system that captures exit data on foreign travelers in a way that does not disrupt air carrier or port operations but, rather, secures and facilitates travel and trade. CBP will evaluate this test to determine the benefits of implementing an enhanced mobile biometric capability to capture exit data on foreign travelers and the feasibility of easily integrating this process into CBP outbound operations."

During testing, CBP officers will be stationed at the passenger loading bridge of selected flights departing the United States with a handheld biometric device. CBP officers will scan selected foreign national air travelers’ fingerprints and passports using the device. The traveler’s data will be matched to the data collected when they entered the United States and then stored in secure data systems managed by the Department of Homeland Security.

CBP says it still also remains committed to protecting the privacy of all travelers.

This project is one of several initiatives CBP is working on to address the Congressional mandate to biometrically record the departure of foreign visitors.  The project will test the feasibility of using an enhanced handheld mobile device to collect biometric exit data from foreign national air travelers and to conduct law enforcement queries that will be used during inspections of foreign national travelers departing the United States.

Only non-US citizens will be included in the testing.

Testing will expand to the following locations this autumn: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, San Francisco, and Washington-Dulles. The project will run through June 2016.

CBP notes that its Entry/Exit strategy includes three core pillars: identify and close the biographic gaps and enhance the entry-exit system; perform targeted biometric operations; and transform the entry/exit process through the use of emerging biometric technologies.


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