DHS to Begin Testing Iris Scanners on Illegal Immigrants

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ISAF/DoD Biometrics Tracking Afghanistan Photos

A US army officer with the 101st Airborne Division Alpha Battery 1-320th takes an iris picture of an Afghan man detected with gunpowder on his hands, outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the village of Jellawar in The Arghandab Valley on September 5, 2010. The war in Afghanistan is nearing the end of its ninth year, with international troops at almost full strength of 150,000, from the United States and NATO. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK BAZ

Homeland Security to test iris scanners (USA Today):

The Homeland Security Department 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 two-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.

Iris scanners are little used, but a new generation of cameras that capture images from 6 feet away instead of a few inches has sparked interest from government agencies and financial firms, said Patrick Grother, a National Institute of Standards and Technology computer scientist. The technology also has sparked objections from the American Civil Liberties Union.

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 said.

Scans will be tested on illegal aliens (UPI):

Illegal aliens in Texas will be used to test iris scanners as a quicker alternative to fingerprints, the Department of Homeland Security said.

The agency will conduct a two-week test of commercially sold iris scanners next month at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, USA Today reported Monday.

“The test will help us determine how viable this is for potential (department) use in the future,” said Arun Vemury, a program manager at the department’s science and technology branch.

The scanners are not widely used, but advances in technology allow cameras to photograph the eye at distances up to 6 feet, rather than the few inches required of older cameras, the newspaper said.

If successful, the scans could more quickly identify suspected terrorists, and others on federal no-fly lists, officials say.

Iris scans might be quicker than fingerprints.

DHS Testing Iris Scanners At U.S. Border (InformationWeek):

Iris scanners scan people’s eyes and record information for identity purposes. The technology is controversial and has raised privacy concerns and objections from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.

The test is being run by the DHS science and technology (S&T) directorate and co- sponsored by the national programs and protection directorate and US-VISIT program, according to a privacy impact assessment. It also leverages the joint expertise of DHS, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Department of Defense (DoD), and the U.S. Naval Academy.

The DHS is not disclosing which three companies’ technology will be used in the test, which will be conducted on illegal immigrants that are identified and processed at the McAllen station.

The information collected will be stored on a secure system that is not connected to the internet nor to any DHS system, according to the privacy impact assessment. Identifying information of those whose irises are scanned will not be connected to the scan information. All the information collected is merely to test whether iris scanners perform as they are expected to perform, according to the DHS.

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