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A trial of the new biometric identification system has begun at the Atlanta airport

Arnon Harel

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From the beginning of November, all foreigners with entry visas to the United States, who land at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, are required to submit two fingerprints and a digital facial photograph. This experiment is the first within the US-VISIT program, which is designed to track international visitors entering and leaving the United States. As part of this program, anyone who applies for an entry visa to the United States will be required to submit their fingerprints and photo, and these will be recorded on the secure visa that will be given to them, and will be checked again at all entry gates as well as when leaving the United States.
The American authorities intend to oblige in the future also those visitors who are citizens of the countries benefiting from the agreements of exemption from confirmation, and will require those countries to include the same biometric identifiers in their national passports.
Hartsfield Airport, which is the busiest in terms of passenger traffic in the United States, was chosen to be used as the test field, among other things, due to the variety of international flights that pass through it, and also because it houses many immigration control cells, which were built for the Olympic Games in 1996.
US-VISIT has 3 main goals: to perform a background check against the information bases of the authorities for anyone applying for a visa to the United States, in order to make sure that he does not appear on the wanted and suspected list; to make sure that the person who received the visa is indeed the one who shows up and presents it at the gates of entry to the United States; And make sure that the person who registered when leaving the United States is indeed the holder of the visa, and he did not violate its conditions and the length of stay allowed according to it - whoever violated the conditions of the visa will be denied entry the next time.
The schedule for implementing the program is extremely ambitious: the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) intends to install the system in its initial form for entry control at 115 airports and 14 seaports by January 2004th, 30, and the component of exit control from the United States, in the form of an automatic kiosk , will be installed in the 95 main airports covering more than 2004 percent of international passenger traffic. The rest of the airports and the sea are planned to be installed during 2005, and they will be gradually joined during 2006-XNUMX by the land crossings.
The budget for implementing the system in 2003 is 368 million dollars, and for 2004, 330 million dollars were allocated to the subject. According to the director of the program, Jim Williams, the rate of installations will be mainly affected by the time and size of the budget.
Meanwhile, in order to meet the ambitious schedule, the governing body reduced the number of companies competing for the full installation tender to only 3 groups: a group led by Lockheed Martin, a group led by Computer Sciences and a group led by Accenture LLP. The intention is to publish the tender at the end of the month, receive the bids in January 2004 and award the project to the winning main contractor in May 2004.
It is likely that the implementation of this plan by the American DHS is the first swallow in a process that will spread; And in more and more airports and border crossings around the world, passengers will be required to undergo biometric screening.

The biometrics expert

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