The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to expand the department’s authorities and methods for collecting biometrics to improve the screening and vetting process.
The proposed rule changes would modernize biometrics collection and authorize expanded use of biometrics beyond background checks to include identity verification, secure document production, and records management. It would also establish a standard definition of “biometrics” for DHS components and authorized purposes for collecting biometrics. This would create clear rules for using the information collected.
“This proposed rule eliminates any ambiguity surrounding the Department’s use of biometrics, setting clear standards for how and why we collect and use this information,” Ken Cuccinelli, senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary for homeland security, said. “Leveraging readily available technology to verify the identity of an individual we are screening is responsible governing. The collection of biometric information also guards against identity theft and thwarts fraudsters who are not who they claim to be.”
The proposed rule would authorize biometrics collection for identity verification using new techniques, like voice, iris, and facial recognition technologies. These are fast, accurate ways to confirm the identity of an applicant without requiring physical contact. It also authorizes DHS to collect DNA or DNA test results to verify a claimed genetic relationship when the applicant or petitioner is unable to provide sufficient documentary evidence to establish the claimed relationship.
Using DNA or DNA test results to help establish “family units” would help petitioners and DHS verify claims of genetic relationships and keep adults who are in custody from misrepresenting themselves as biological parents of minors.