Strengthening Security Globally through Shared Biometrics
Today's global threat environment is increasingly complex, especially monitoring individuals leaving and entering countries. Events like the terrorist attacks in Paris put increasing mission pressure on the U.S. to properly vet and identify individuals entering and exiting the country. Refugees from countries of unrest, such as Syria, further complicate this mission challenge.
The Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced a new pilot program called Identity Intelligence Biometrics (I2B). The Identity Intelligence Biometrics (I2B) pilot intends to develop a cloud-based multi-modal (face and fingerprint) automated biometric identification system using non-U.S. person biometric records held by U.S. government agencies."
I2B builds upon previous DHS biometric efforts to monitor suspected terrorists and other Special Interest Aliens (SIAs). Components across the Department and the U.S. Intelligence Community will increase the use of emerging technologies in the realm of biometric data and work to expand the sharing of this information. The combined effort will better secure the homeland by primarily focusing on ports of entry and exit around the country.
I2B is an example of the goals set forth in Secretary Jeh Johnson’s Department of Homeland Security Unity of Effort Memo. Beyond just inter-Department unity, international collaboration to support this mission is also more critical than ever. Sharing intelligence with key international partners can help mitigate threats as early as possible. As other countries expand their own biometric databases, the U.S. should look for ways to share information securely, keeping in mind civil liberties in both the U.S. and the strong privacy protection of our partner countries.
Deeply understanding privacy and other policy constraints of its partners before DHS fully builds I2B is only one step the Department can take to make information sharing work effectively.