December 17, 2020

Open Source Intelligence

OSI World News

Trump Pushes to Aquire Biometric and Voiceprint Data From Immigrants, Americans

Six million would-be U.S. immigrants face an expanded collection of their biometric data, including iris scans, palm prints, voice-prints, facial recognition imagery, and DNA, under a proposed federal rule being pushed by Donald Trump.

The Department of Homeland Security would also, for the first time, gather that information from American citizens sponsoring or availing from a visa application.

The biometrics immigration rule has amassed more than 160 comments since its Sept. 11 publication. The 30-day comment period closes on Oct 13th and the final version could be in place by Inauguration Day.

President Trump is making the push extremely late in his term while privacy and immigration advocates are worried about who will need to comply with the new requirements.

“Any applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or individual filing or associated with an immigration benefit or request, including U.S. citizens, must appear for biometrics collection without regard to age unless the agency waives or exempts the requirement.”

Biometrics Immigration Rules (Over 300-pages long)

DHS already collects fingerprints from some visa applicants, but under the new rule, DHS estimates an additional 2.17 million new biometrics submissions will be collected annually.

The new proclamation would not only pertain to biometrics-gathering, but also for iris images (eyes), palm prints, and voiceprints. Voiceprint refers to the acoustic frequency spectrum that carries the speech information in a human voice. Like fingerprints, it has unique biometric signatures, is individual-specific, and can function as a classification or identification method.

The agency also wants the authority to require or request DNA testing to prove familial connections where kinship is in question.

The DNA data could be stored indefinitely, under the proposed rule.

DHS basically has until December 20th to review and reply to public comments and draft a final proposal, said Doug Rand, who worked on technology and immigration policy in the Obama White House. Rand later moved on and joined the Federation of American Scientists

“They’re really running out of time. And the fact that you’d put out a final regulation on such a far-ranging new policy that touches the lives of millions of people, you’re opening up to huge legal vulnerability because any plaintiff can point to the comment period of only 30 days.”

Doug Rand

The newly proposed methods to store and collect data is concerning for privacy advocates as a whole as more countries and law enforcement lean on technology for predicting crimes, or surveillance techniques that ensure citizens are compliant with coronavirus mandates.