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Posts Tagged ‘DNA Screener’

11th March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule regarding the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005. To quote directly from the official website of the Department of Homeland Security:

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule to establish minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards in accordance with the REAL ID Act of 2005.

These regulations set standards for states to meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act, including:

  • information and security features that must be incorporated into each card;
  • proof of identity and lawful status of an applicant;
  • verification of the source documents provided by an applicant; and
  • security standards for the offices that issue licenses and identification cards.

This final rule also provides a process for states to seek an additional extension of the compliance deadline to May 11, 2011, by demonstrating material compliance with the core requirements of the Act and this rule.

For those who are unfamiliar with the REAL ID Act, this piece of legislation greatly altered the dynamics of identity documentation in the United States. As usual, Wikipedia concisely describes some of the implications of the REAL ID Act in the context of State driving licenses, to quote directly from Wikipedia:

After 2011, “a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the requirements” specified in the REAL ID Act. States remain free to also issue non-complying licenses and IDs, so long as these have a unique design and a clear statement that they cannot be accepted for any Federal identification purpose. The federal Transportation Security Administration is responsible for security check-in at airports, so bearers of non-compliant documents would no longer be able to travel on common carrier aircraft without additional screening unless they had an alternative government-issued photo ID.[16]

Clearly, advocates of a limited Federal government may take some exception with some of the notions outlined above. There are some who have voiced concerns regarding the Federal government’s role in the context of the REAL ID Act as advocates in favor of civil liberties and privacy rights have mentioned some of the more eerie implications of the REAL ID Act. States Rights proponents and Constitutional scholars have also raised interesting issues in discussions regarding the REAL ID Act. Some even speculate as to the scope of an agency such as DHS when examining programs such as the implementation of the REAL ID Act in conjunction with technology such as the Iris scanners and DNA screeners previously mentioned on this blog. Notwithstanding controversy, the REAL ID Act and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) seem to be increasingly ubiquitous issues in the dual pantheons of both the so-called “Alternative Media” as well as the “Mainstream Media“.

As the role of the DHS and the TSA becomes more defined it seems likely that new and interesting legal, social, and political issues will will arise as a result.

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27th February 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security may soon be utilizing a portable DNA screener which can establish kinship via DNA comparison in a relatively quick span of time. To quote directly from the website Nextgov.com (a site dedicated to providing information about the confluence of technology and government):

[P]lans to begin testing a DNA analyzer that’s small enough to be easily portable and fast enough to return results in less than an hour.

The analyzer, about the size of a laser printer, initially will be used to determine kinship among refugees and asylum seekers. It also could help establish whether foreigners giving children up for adoption are their parents or other relatives, and help combat child smuggling and human trafficking, said Christopher Miles, biometrics program manager in the DHS Office of Science and Technology.

The administration of this web log highly recommends that readers click on the links above to read this interesting article in its entirety.

This technology could have some remarkably positive implications. For example, as noted above, the ability to quickly determine a genetic link between two individuals could expedite the processing of requests for American immigration benefits such as asylum or conferral of refugee status. Moreover, such technology could be tremendously useful in adjudications pertaining to issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship or Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Also, technology such as this could truly be useful in combating problems such as human trafficking (hopefully with particular emphasis upon trafficking in children). This being said, There are some eerily Orwellian aspects to technology such as this. To continue quoting from the above cited article on Nextgov.com:

Eventually, the analyzer also could be used to positively identify criminals, illegal immigrants, missing persons and mass casualty victims, he said.

The implications for so-called “criminals,” (a term often applied loosely by law enforcement personnel) could be serious. Usage of technology such as that noted above, when utilized against American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents in matters which could have an impact upon individual civil liberties, needs to comport with the protections guaranteed to individuals under the United States Constitution and enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Some may ponder: “Why does this blogger take issue with technology such as that noted above when utilized against US Citizens, while being less concerned for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers?” The short answer: prospective immigrants outside of the United States have virtually no “rights”. Those seeking immigration benefits are seeking just that: BENEFITS. While American Citizens and those already admitted to the United States in Lawful Permanent Resident status (or another lawful visa status) are guaranteed certain protections from governmental intrusion.

Widespread usage of this technology has yet to be implemented, but one thing is clear: technology is revolutionizing all aspects of the US Immigration process.

For related information please see: DHS Iris Scanners.

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