2004-08-17

US-Grenzschutz mit Biometrie funktioniert nicht

--- Das im Januar gestartete US-VISIT-Programm, ein Biometrie-System zum Abgleich von digitalen Fingerabdr�cken und zum Errichten einer virtuellen Grenzmauer, l�uft nicht im Sinne der Erfinder und steckt in einer Sackgasse, berichtet die LA Times heute: A new government computer program that tries to identify terrorists and criminals from among millions of foreign visitors was built from antiquated components that cannot easily exchange information, limiting its effectiveness in the war on terrorism, a senior Democratic lawmaker charged Monday. "You are going down a dead-end road here, and sooner or later, it is going to be apparent," said Rep. Jim Turner of Texas, the ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. At issue is US-VISIT, a program launched in January by the Department of Homeland Security and hailed at the time as the most significant advance in immigration enforcement in decades. The name stands for U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology. Now deployed at airports and seaports, it will be phased in at major land border crossings late this year. The system uses two digital fingerprints and a photo to verify the identity of an arriving traveler as it conducts an instantaneous background check. The idea is to prevent a terrorist from slipping into the country by simply changing the name on his or her passport. Eventually, US-VISIT also will be used to ensure that foreigners leave the country when their visas expire. Asa Hutchinson, the Homeland Security Department's undersecretary for border and transportation security, defended US-VISIT. "It is being developed as a connected system," he said. "It is certainly going to be an integrated system." The government has already spent more than $700 million on US-VISIT, Turner said. The total cost of the contract over the next decade could exceed $10 billion, making it one of the most expensive domestic security programs ever implemented. But Turner said an investigation by his staff showed that the technology had been grafted onto old immigration databases not fully compatible with either the FBI's massive fingerprint library or the State Department's database of people seeking to travel to the United States.

Update: Und weitere schlechte Nachrichten f�r das amerikanische Heimatschutzministerium: Members of the Sept. 11 commission urged Congress yesterday to impose strict deadlines on the Department of Homeland Security to close loopholes in the nation's transportation system, even if it means going up against powerful interest groups and spending billions of dollars. The chairman and vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which issued recommendations last month, said the administration has not developed strategic plans to protect the nation's rail system and ports and to correct technical communication problems among police and firefighters. The leaders of the commission also said aviation security, which has received the most government attention and money, has focused too much on "fighting the last war" instead of looking to prevent new threats.