DHS proposes use of vicinity RFID for security at ports of entry
On the heels of President Bush’s signing of the Security and Accountability for Every (SAFE) Port Act, authorizing $3.4 billion over five years for security measures, the Department of Homeland Security is proposing the use of vicinity RFID technology for further security at U.S. ports.
The vicinity RFID technology, to be compatible with the U.S. Department of State’s new PASSport card, would allow a travel document to be read from several feet as a vehicle approaches inspection. The PASSport card, part of the People Access Security Service (PASS) System, is designed to meet the specific requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) for U.S. citizens crossing U.S. borders by land or sea.
“Vicinity RFID technology will be a force multiplier for our U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers by providing them with up-front information they need to quickly make critical decisions about travelers entering or re-entering the United States,” CBP commissioner Ralph Basham says. “The deployment of this advanced technological solution will improve public safety, national security and the integrity of the immigration process.”
Vicinity RFID technology leverages DHS’ successful experience with currently installed reader technology used in the FAST, NEXUS and SENTRI trusted traveler programs, which have more than 250,000 participants. In addition, through an ongoing test at land borders, US-VISIT has issued more than 459,000 radio frequency-enabled I-94, the standard arrival and departure record issued at ports of entry.
To protect the privacy of Americans who opt to use the PASSport card, no personal information will be stored or transmitted on the RFID chip on the card. The technology will transmit only a number between the card and the reader which will be matched against a DHS database. While no personally identifiable information will be transmitted, DHS is taking steps to help ensure that this number cannot be intercepted during transmission to an authorized reader at a port of entry.
Vicinity RFID, which is also used successfully in highway toll systems across the United States, demands little of the traveler and can read multiple cards simultaneously inside a vehicle. The vicinity RFID technology will increase the security of the border while facilitating commerce at the port of entry.
The speed of vicinity RFID will allow CBP officers to quickly read the identification of all travelers carrying passport cards, allowing DHS to perform terrorist watch list checks. Additionally, multiple cards can be read at a distance and simultaneously with vicinity RFID technology, allowing an entire car full of people to be processed at once.
The proposed regulations of the PASSport card, a card-format passport compatible with this RFID technology have been published by the Department of State in the Federal Register. The proposed PASSport card will be credit-card sized and valid for use only at land and sea borders.