Former 9/11 Commission border counsel and Special Counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, Janice Kephart of Identity Strategy Partners, LLP, suggests that President Donald Trump’s controversial “Travel Ban” is too broad to be effective and recommends that the US introduce better screening technology instead.
“As President Trump's 'Travel Ban' Executive Order gains more notoriety and the 9th Circuit has now essentially banned the travel ban, it is important that our national discourse regain a level of objectivity about whether the Order is worth fixing, and if so, how.
“I believe that while the 'travel ban' section of the Order is completely unnecessary and discriminatory, the Order's underlying goal to prevent terrorist entry by properly establishing identity, retains value.”
Kephart agrees with the President that confirming visitor identity is critical to security and also knowing about any links for that identity to terrorism, but warns that there is no 100% guarantee of identifying those who intend to do harm.
Instead, as written, the executive order puts visitors in the impossible position of trying to prove a negative.
“A person can establish who they are through reasonable means of biometrics—physical attributes—affiliated with biographic information derived most commonly from an ID such as a passport, but it is impossible for them to assure who they are not, i.e., a terrorist.
“The 9/11 Commission correctly concluded that border security is essential to national security. However, the President's temporary travel ban focusing on specific countries may have been relevant 20 years ago when terrorist activity was more defined and confined, but is just not justified when terrorist activity is often internet-grown, defuse and as worldwide as it is today.”
She recommends a “laser-focus” for the President's Executive Order on continued improvement of objective, standardised, vetting processes across-the-board, designed to make legitimate travel easier.
- merging biometrics into watchlisting and sharing such lists appropriately amongst the military, FBI, intelligence, homeland security communities and appropriate allies
- biometric exit implementation at U.S. ports of entry
- appropriate interviews for visas and admissions
- requiring all visa waiver countries—and eventually the world—to adopt U.S. biometric pre-clearance, pre-boarding admissions procedures
- international support for counterfeit-resistant travel documents, including passports, and increased support for INTERPOL's lost and stolen passport database
Biometric technologies which may improve travel are on the rise, and becoming more sophisticated.
KLM recently introduced trials at Schiphol Airport of biometric boarding, using facial recognition software.
SITA Lab is working with ShoCard to develop a blockchain-based personal identity which could one day replace international passports.
Most recently, Vison-Box worked with Eurostar to introduce facial recognition technology at St Pancras International in London.
There are challenges ahead for integration and international data sharing of biometric information, including records of movements across borders, but the greatest benefit of biometric and digital identity technologies is their high degree of accuracy and their objectivity.
“While the threat is worldwide, it is also internal, and is not limited to seven countries. However, that does not mean that xenophobia is valid. Instead, the President would be apt to review all that the federal government has done, carefully and often painfully, to find terrorists and prevent their entry into the United States without relying on profiling.
Intelligence reasonably associated with identity continues to be the correct approach.” .