In the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th, the Secure Identity & Biometrics Association (SIBA) is pushing for the implementation of biometric identification systems for refugee claimant screening.
In a statement, SIBA CEO Michael Dougherty said that traditional identity documents “of course have a role to play in vetting refugees and asylum-seekers,” but added that “there are so many fraudulent Syrian passports and national IDs in circulation right now, those documents cannot be considered reliable in establishing a person’s identity.” Dougherty also asserted that the “ability of ISIS and other groups to supply operatives with false identification credentials represents a serious threat to the security of civilian populations.”
SIBA proceeded to outline multiple options for protecting against these threats. One move would be to expand the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’s use of biometric identification, with a corollary measure being the issuance of biometric smart ID cards, which the UNHCR has already been trialling in certain refugee camps .
SIBA also suggests expanding the use of biometric identification technologies among EU law enforcement agencies, particularly when dealing with refugee populations, and especially in deployments protecting the Schengen area, which allows relatively unrestricted travel between its members states. European officials have already sought to enhance Schengen border screening with biometrics, so this suggestion could prove popular.
Finally, SIBA suggests that the US help to provide European allies with biometric identification technologies – particularly of the mobile variety – in an effort to help secure all borders. Recent partnerships have indicated a political willingness to engage in this kind of assistance on the US’s part, so this too is a very plausible suggestion. But whether any or all of these suggestions end up being implemented, they offer valuable food for thought as officials consider the benefits that biometric technology has to offer in preventing further terrorist attacks.
November 30, 2015 – by Alex Perala