[Paleopsych] AP: Homeland Security To Launch RFID Systems At Border Crossings

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Fri Jul 29 15:46:30 UTC 2005

Homeland Security To Launch RFID Systems At Border Crossings
[Thanks to Eugen for this.]

    Five border posts with Canada and Mexico will get the systems, to
    track visitors driving in and out of the U.S.

    By Beth Duff-Brown, The Associated Press
    July 28, 2005

    TORONTO (AP) --The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will install
    radio frequency technology at five border posts with Canada and Mexico
    to track foreigners driving in and out of North America.

    In its ongoing efforts to tighten border security and monitor possible
    terrorist and criminal activity, Bob Mocny of the Department of
    Homeland Security said the wireless chips for vehicles would become
    mandatory at designated border crossings in Canada and Mexico as of
    next Thursday.

    "This is a major transformation of how we are going to be gathering
    information about entries and exits along the border," Mocny said at a
    Wednesday news conference in Toronto. "The fundamental obligation of
    our government is to protect our citizens."

    After a foreigner entering the U.S. has passed a thorough security
    check once, they will be given a document containing the chip. This
    document will need to be renewed every six months.

    The document is meant to be placed on the dashboard of a car so that a
    person's personal information can be read as they approach a border

    Even with the radio frequency technology, however, the vehicle will
    still have to stop. If a person's identifying data produce no red
    flags, they will get just a cursory check at the border rather than
    lengthy questioning.

    Canadians and Mexicans, who fall under special immigration rules, are
    exempt from needing the chip.

    The mandatory program will apply, however, to all foreigners with U.S.
    visas--including those from the 27 countries whose citizens don't need
    visas for short U.S. visits--who cross into the United States at those

    The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed concern that the
    program violates privacy rights for "third country nationals" who fall
    under the program. Some immigrant groups also have argued that the
    technology would target Muslims and empower a growing society of

    But Homeland Security officials insist weeding out potential
    terrorists, drug dealers, and other criminals from the innocent
    shoppers, truckers, and tourists who regularly cross the borders is a

    Members of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation met Wednesday with
    Mocny to discuss their concerns. They came away hoping the new
    technology may in fact help to fight racial and religious profiling.

    Karen Mock, the foundation's executive director, said she hears
    stories of people with "Middle Eastern-sounding names or darker
    complexions" being stopped and questioned frequently. She said
    technology could help by eliminating the possibility of stereotyping.

    "They are able to ensure that regardless of people's names or what
    other countries they've been visiting, that if they're frequent
    travelers and they've already been cleared and their data is fine,
    then they can move through it much more quickly," Mock told The
    Canadian Press.

    Radio frequency antennae have been installed at the border crossings
    at Thousand Islands Bridge in Alexandria Bay, New York; and Blaine,
    Washington, crossings for the Pacific Highway and Peace Arch. The
    technology will also be launched next week at two crossings between
    Mexico and Nogales, Arizona.

    The radio frequency program--known as RFID--is an expansion of the
    US-VISIT program, which was launched last year at 115 airports, 15 sea
    ports, and 50 of the busiest land border crossings along the U.S.
    borders with Canada and Mexico. Under the biometrics program,
    foreigners are fingerprinted and photographed and those details are
    fed into federal databases.

    Mocny said some 35 million people have gone through the program, which
    is set to expand to another 115 land crossings along the Canadian and
    Mexican borders by the end of this year.

    He said some 700 potential criminals with outstanding arrest warrants
    or whose activities raised red flags have been nabbed under the
    program that costs more than US$300 million (euro250 million) a year.

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