Private companies to help populate TSA traveler biometric database

US airports to introduce new online biometric screening technologies (Companies and Markets)

The United States Transportation Security Administration has announced its plans to allow private companies to enrol passengers for expedited screening at airports.

The initiative, known as PreCheck, will allow US citizens to go through an online pre-enrollment process by providing biometric information.

This reminds me of India’s UID system where private companies populate government databases. India had some trouble with this arrangement partly due to the way revenues flowed. In India the government payed companies to enroll people (many without ID’s) in UID. Some unscrupulous agents there were signing up vegetables and getting paid for it.

Presumably, because the TSA system will involve people who already have a verified identity and the customer will be footing the bill, the opportunity for that type of graft won’t be there.

TSA ‘PreCheck’ expansion expected to enroll 88,000 in six months (Los Angeles Times)

Starting later this year, the TSA will allow all travelers who pay a $85 fee and submit background information, including fingerprints, to qualify for the program for five years.

In a report filed this week, the TSA estimated that 88,111 travelers would apply for the program in the first six months, with an additional 383,131 fliers applying in the following year.

The vetting process will take two to three weeks, the TSA said.

Travelers and Feds agree: Trusted traveler programs should be bigger

With the first person account of the enrollment process at the beginning, the story starts badly for biometrics. What follows is a very good discussion of various trusted traveler programs and how they could fit together in a future air travel identity management landscape.

Travelers Welcome a Customs Shortcut (New York Times)

The programs are all based on the concept of risk management, rather than the unattainable goal of total risk elimination. The idea is to develop standard criteria so the programs can work better with each other. They include Global Entry for international airport arrivals, as well as land-crossing programs like Sentri on the Mexican border (which is also open to approved Mexican citizens), and Nexus, a joint entry program between the United States and Canada.

They also include PreCheck, a program of the Transportation Security Administration that speeds screening at select domestic airports for passengers designated as trusted travelers.

The T.S.A. is working to expand eligibility for PreCheck beyond high-volume travelers chosen by airlines. The agency’s administrator, John S. Pistole, told me he wanted to develop a domestic program that he called “Global Entry Lite,” partly using Global Entry criteria, to increase PreCheck eligibility.

It’s good to see many of our regular themes — unattainability of perfection, interoperability, scalability — getting their due in this article.

Will Swiss to say “cheese” for faster entry to US?

Swiss visitors may get fast-track entry to US (Swiss Info)

Swiss travellers to the United States may soon benefit from speedy entry under a new agreement proposed by the US authorities, according to the American ambassador to Bern Donald S. Beyer.

He told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday that participation in the US Global Entry programme managed by US Customs and Border Protection would put Switzerland on a list of “selected countries” whose citizens could gain fast-track entry. 

If Switzerland agrees to participate, it would join a handful of countries alongside the Netherlands, Ireland, Mexico and Canada.

Korea & US Link Trusted Traveler Services

Good News For Travelers: Less Time Spent in U.S. Airports (Wall Street Journal – Asia)

Korean travelers heading to U.S. can sit back and relax knowing they now can spend less time waiting to go through immigration after a long-haul flight in a cramped seat.

On Tuesday, South Korea became the third nation after the Netherlands and Canada—and the first in Asia—to sign a reciprocal agreement with the U.S. that allows low-risk, pre-registered visitors to bypass the face-to-face checkpoints and use instead automated immigration kiosks with biometric identification, available at 25 international U.S. airports.

Just a note, since I’ve seen the error repeated elsewhere: Mexican nationals are also eligible to use the Global Entry kiosks as well as to avail themselves of the SENTRI program.

Also, according to this article, six countries have thus far joined the program – Britain, Holland, Qatar, Austria, New Zealand and Japan – while 250,000 American citizens have registered.

Korea-US Travel Agreement

US and Korea to announce reciprocal trusted traveler agreement

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar and Republic of Korea Minster of Justice Jae-Jin Kwon will jointly announce a reciprocal agreement for each nation’s trusted traveler programs – the U.S. Global Entry and Korea Smart Entry Service – Tuesday, June 12 at Washington Dulles International Airport.

h/t @m2sys

Three approaches to trusted traveler programs…

Clear, Global Entry and PreCheck are three distinct trusted traveler programs. Clear is a commercial effort. Global Entry is a government initiative. PreCheck is administered through the airlines.

It’s good to see the air transportation industry and government regulators trying several things at once in the hope that, as one traveler put it, it “makes travelling bearable again.”

Security checks eased for some air travellers in U.S. airports (Calgary Herald)

The pre-screening programs represent an effort to maintain security against terror attacks while limiting headaches for air travelers. The TSA, which faces constant scrutiny for the invasiveness of passenger screenings, can also be criticized for security lapses.

“On one hand, Congress bashes them for making it miserable for people who fly. But no one in Congress wants to be soft on security,” Bender said.

Airport security is anything but a science, experts say.

There’s more on each of the programs at the link.

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