Accenture Gets US VISIT Biometric Security Contract

A group led by Accenture has won the five year US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US VISIT) biometric security contract. The intent of US VISIT is to track foreign visitors to the United States using digital photographs, fingerprints and other biometric data. Iris scans and other technologies are being studied for this effort.

US VISIT was initiated in January; it requires most visitors to have a digital photo and inkless fingerscan; about 4.5 million people have been screened so far and about 500 have been singled out for violations.

A recent New York Time article presented a number of critical viewpoints on the US VISIT system. Among the criticisms:

  • A real-time system may not be possible, given the amount of data and the number of entry points; too many "false positives" might be generated.
  • There were no small scale "test-bed" projects for this system; it may lead to large scale failures like the anti-ballistic missile systems that still fail in test environments after many years of work.
  • Such a system might cost up to $1.5 billion per year to operate - in addition to the other costs of border services.
  • At least one critic of the system stated flatly that "US VISIT isn't really designed to keep the terrorists out."

Science fiction fans looking for more information on this topic may wish to consult one of the new telescreens at any of the 211 ports of entry covered by the US VISIT program.

See ZdNet UK and Department of Homeland Security US VISIT Fact Sheet for more information. Also, the NYT article is here.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/2/2004)

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Index of related articles:

Biometric security overview
Biometrics Glossary
Characteristics of successful biometric identification methods
Biometric identification systems
Biometric technology on the leading edge
Biometric identification - advantages
Biometric security and business ethics
Biometric authentication: what method works best?
Iris Recognition
Iris Scan

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