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ImplementingaBiometricUSVISITExit:
DebunkingInaccuraciesaboutBiometricIdentification

DuringthediscussionofanamendmentthatwouldrequireabiometricUSVISITexitin
comprehensiveimmigrationreformlegislation,opponentsmadeanumberofstatements
questioningthefeasibility,reliability,accuracyandcostofthetechnologyitself.

Thesestatementswereerroneous.Unfortunately,thelikelyimpactoftheseperceptionsisto
retardtheapplicationofbiometricsbytheU.S.governmenttothedetrimentofnational
securityandthebenefitsofthemosteffectivemeansofidentificationavailabletoday.Itis
interestingthat,atthesametimeitsuseintheU.S.isbeingquestioned,theuseofbiometricsis
expandingbyleapsandboundsaroundtheworld.

AsthedebatecontinuesonthemeritsofanamendmentthatwouldrequireabiometricUS
VISITexit(andotherprovisionsinthebillsuchasemploymentverification),thepurposeofthis
memoistoprovidemoreaccurateinformationaboutbiometricidentificationthatcanbeused
tosettherecordstraightandensureadebatethatreliesonthemostaccurateanduptodate
information.

Statement1:Thetechnologyisnotreliable.
Fact:Biometrictechnologyisbothprovenandaccurate.Contrarytovariousstatements(there
wasnodataprovidedtoprovethestatements),thetechnologyprovidesthemosteffective
meansofidentificationavailable,accordingtotheNationalInstituteofStandardsand
Technology(NIST),thebodythatdevelopstechnologystandardsforthegovernment.

Biometricidentificationisnotaneworunproventechnology;itisaccurate,reliableandproven.
NISThasstudiedbiometricsextensivelyforyearsashavenumerousorganizationsworldwide.
Nationalandinternationalstandardshavebeeninplaceforyears.Itsuseiscommonplaceby
governmentandthecommercialandconsumersectors.

Statement2:Thephototoolprovidedinthebillisamorereliablemeansofidentificationthan
biometricidentification.
Fact:Thephototoolisnotamorereliablemeansofidentification.AccordingtoNIST
(FederalInformationProcessingStandardsPublication2012,section6.3.1,Table62),visual
inspectionandcomparisonprovideslittleornoassuranceofidentity.Thephototoolinthebill,
whichwastoutedassuperiortobiometricidentification,reliesonmanualvisualinspectionand
comparisonofphotos;itdoesnotactuallyusethephotosasameansofautomatedbiometric
identification(facialrecognition).

Biometricsprovidespositiveidentitywithahighdegreeofcertaintyand,atthesametime,
preservesprivacy,accordingtoNIST.Noothermeansofidentificationcanmakethatclaim.
Becausebiometricsarebasedonanindividualsuniquephysicalattributes,theyprevent
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impostersfromclaimingsomeoneelsesidentityand,posingasthatperson,gain
employment,collectbenefits,boardanairplane,gainaccesstopersonaldata.
Passwords,PINs,orothercodes,alsodonotprovidepositiveidentity.PINsand
passwordscanbeforgotten,lost,stolen,andsharedwithfriendsandfamily.Amachine
readable,fraudandtamperresistantcardonlyauthenticatesthecardandsaysnothing
abouttheidentityofthecardholder.
Italsoisthemostconvenient,simpleanddemocraticformofidentityauthentication.
Therearenolanguage,gender,age,race,financialhistory,orliteracyrequirementsfor
users;itissimplythepresentationoftheindividualsbiometric.
Statement3:Therearenolargescalesuccessfulgovernmentprogramsthatusebiometrics.
Fact:BiometricsarecommonlyandeffectivelyusedinlargescaleprojectsintheUSaswellas
globally.
FBIIntegratedAutomatedFingerprintIdentificationSystem(IAFIS)thatistheglobal
standardforidentification.Therearemorethan70millionsubjectsinthecriminal
masterfileofIAFIS,andournationallawenforcementcommunities(andothers)submit
asmanyas300,000transactionstothesystemeveryday.
FBINextGenerationIdentificationsystem(NGI)isthemultimodalupgradetotheIAFIS
system,addingenhancedlatentprintcapability,palmprintcapability,automatedface
recognition,andoptionsforadditionalbiometricmodessuchasirisrecognition.The
databasecapacitiesandtransactionratesforNGI,currentlyindevelopment,are
multiplesofthecurrentIAFISsystem.
USVISITentry.TheUSVISITentryprogrambasicallytracksallpeoplewhoenterinto
thecountry(otherthanthosefromvisawaivercountries)byrequiringthemtosubmit
fingerprintsfornationalsecuritybackgroundchecksasaconditionforreceivingavisa.
ThefingerprintsarecheckedagainstU.S.watchlists.Ifcleared,thevisaisissued.When
thevisaholdersentertheU.S.,theymustprovidetheirfingerprintstotheborderagent
whothenmatchesthemagainsttheUSVISITdatabaseandwatchlists.Ifthe
fingerprintsmatchthosecollectedforthevisaandtherearenowatchlistalerts,they
areadmittedtotheU.S.Ithasbeenextremelysuccessful.Sinceitsinception,USVIST
hasprocessedover150milliontransactionsandtheresponsetimeformatching
fingerprintsattheU.S.borderisabout8seconds
DepartmentofDefensebiometriccommonaccesscards(CAC)thatallmilitarypersonnel
arerequiredtocarryatalltimes(perDoDInstruction1000.13),andisusedforphysical
andlogical(e.g.computersandnetworks)accesscontrolaroundtheworld.Thereare
over3.5millionactiveCACcards,andover17millionhavebeenissuedoverthelifeof
theprogram.DoDhasdeployedanissuanceinfrastructureatover1000sitesinmore
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than27countriesaroundtheworld,andcontinuesrollingoutmorethanonemillion
cardreadersandassociatedmiddleware.
TSATransportationWorkerIdentificationCredential(TWIC),apost9/11initiativeto
clearandcredentialallofournationsmaritimeportworkers.Thisisabiometricsmart
cardwithover2.4millionenrollmentstodate.(Thisprogramhasbeensubjectto
criticism,somefairandsomeunfair.Theproblemshavelargelybeentheresultofthe
failureofantennasinabout1millionofthefirstcardsissued,notwiththebiometric
scanners.Thecardsandantennashavebeenfixed,theoldcardsarebeingflushedout
ofthesystem,andsystemoperationshaveimproveddramatically.)
HSPD12PersonalIdentityVerification(PIV)mandatedbiometriccapablesmart
identificationcardsforallexecutiveagencypersonnel.Approximately4.3million
federalemployeesand1.2millioncontractorshavebeenissuedanHSPD12compliant
PIVcard.
TheIntelligencecommunityreliesonbiometricsfortheirmissions.Thereareclassified
programswhichusebiometricsextensively.
TheGovernmentofIndiahasembarkedonanambitiousprogramtobiometrically
(finger,iris)enrollalloftheircitizens(~1.2Billion),initiallytoensureaccurate
disseminationofGovernmentbenefits,butultimatelyasanenablerforsecure
commerceofalltypes.TheprogramiscalledAadhaarundertheUnique
IdentificationAuthorityofIndia(UIDAI).Thisisthemostambitiousbiometric
identificationprogramintheworld,viewedbytheveryprogressiveIndiangovernment
asasecureenablerofsocietalprogressandeconomicgrowth.
Statement4:Peoplecaneasilychangefingerprintsandirisbutnottheface.
Fact:Fingerprintsandirisaresubstantiallymorereliablethanthephototoolaswellas
facialrecognition.Infact,theeasiestwaytopassasanimposterisbycosmeticfacialchanges
hairstyleandcolor,glassesornoglasses,facialhair,prosthetics,cosmeticsurgery,andmany
othertechniques.Thesetechniquescannoteasilybedetectedvisuallybyhumans.Peoplecan
developvirtualidentitiesandchangetheirappearancewithease.Inaddition,variationsin
pose,lighting,andexpressionareproblematicwhendealingwithfacialrecognition.According
totheFBI,facialrecognitionisfarlessreliablethanfingerprintsandirisrecognition.

Inaddition,thebiometricsindustryhasdevelopedcountermeasuresforcommonlyused
spoofingtechniquesforfingerprintsandirises,largelycenteredonlivenessdetection.For
fingerprintlivenessdetection,avarietyoftechniquesareused,includingdetectingbloodflow
andgalvanicskinresponse.Foririsliveness(acountertofakeiriscontactlenses),pupillary
responseovermultipleimagesundervaryinglightingisused.

Statement5:Thevisadocumentistamperandfraudresistantandthephotoonthecard
cannotbechanged.
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Fact:Biographicaldocuments,absentbiometrics,aresusceptibletotamperingandfraud.
Documentsarenotdifficulttocomeby,forginghasbecomeincreasinglysophisticated,and
documentsinthemselvesonlyproveyouareinpossessionofsomething,notreallywhoyou
are.Evenamachinereadable,fraudandtamperresistantcardcanbeforgedandonly
authenticatesthecardandsaysnothingabouttheidentityofthecardholder.(Thisistobe
distinguishedfromanelectronicallyreadablesmartcardwithbiometricsandotherdata
embeddedandencryptedinthecard,whichishighlyeffective).

Statement6:Disneyhassubstitutedphotosforfingerprintbiometricsatitsaccessgatesonthe
theorythatphotosarejustaseffectiveasbiometrics.
Fact:Disneyhasnotsubstitutedphotosforbiometricsatitsaccesspoints.Tothecontrary,
Disneycontinuestousebiometricsatallaccessgatesand,asnotedinnumerousrecentmedia
reports,isintheprocessofupgradingandexpandingitsuseoffingerprintbiometrics.Please
alsochecktheDisneywebsiteatwww.disney.com.