The U.S. State Department is researching an interoperable biometric solution that will be used between U.S. and Mexican authorities. According to Fed Scoop, the solution may collect and share iris, facial, voice, and fingerprint data between Mexican biometric applications and systems at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. The solution is also required to be made using commercial off the shelf (cots) components. The request comes as part of the Merida Initiative, which is a security cooperation agreement signed between the George W. Bush and Felipe Calderon administrations.
U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) is also interested in procuring small facial recognition drones to support agency missions and operations. While small unmanned aerial vehicles were initially requested in July 2016, USBP states the number of responses have been “very positive/robust” and they will be closing the solicitation on April 27th. Privacy advocates, however, are concerned with the drone’s stated requirements and capabilities, such as the ability to pull data from any “relevant law enforcement database”. These advocates point out potential abuses that can arise from having access to large image databases that collectively contain information for about half of all American adults.
These requests come while at the same time, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of the Department of Homeland Security and the Agency that oversees USBP, is engaged in testingbiometric capture technologies in the airport and land border crossing environments. Biometric capture technology is planned for implementation in the international air-exit environment in 2018, though the Trump Administration has recently expressed desires to “fast track” that plan. While DHS and CBP are optimistic in implementing these technologies, challenges remain.