TWIC program for port security nears implementation
The Department of Homeland Security has issued the final rule for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, which enhances port security by checking the backgrounds of workers before they are granted unescorted access to secure areas of vessels and maritime facilities.
The rule lays out the enrollment process, disqualifying crimes, usage procedures, fees and other requirements for workers, port owners and operators.
The rule is expected to impact more than 750,000 port employees, longshoremen, mariners, truckers and others who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports and vessels.
TWIC enrollment will begin in March 2007, initially at a small number of ports. Additional deployments will increase and continue throughout the year at U.S. ports on a phased basis.
Specific measures include:
* Security threat assessment — TWIC applicants will undergo a comprehensive background check that looks at criminal history records, terrorist watch lists, immigration status and outstanding wants and warrants.
* Technology — The credential will be a smart card containing the applicant’s photograph and name, an expiration date and a serial number. In addition, an integrated circuit chip will store the holder’s fingerprint template, a PIN chosen by the individual, and a card holder unique identifier.
* Eligibility — Individuals lacking lawful presence and certain immigration status in the United States, connected to terrorist activity, or convicted of certain crimes will be ineligible for a TWIC.
* Use — During the initial rollout, workers will present their cards to authorized personnel, who will compare the holder to his or her photo, inspect security features on the TWIC and evaluate the card for signs of tampering. The Coast Guard will verify TWIC cards when conducting vessel and facility inspections and through spot checks using hand-held readers to ensure credentials are valid. Until card reader technology is tested and a regulation issued on access control, facility owners and operators will not be required to use TWIC readers for facility access.
* Cost — The fee for TWIC will be between $139 and $159, and the TWIC cards will be valid for 5 years.
* Biometric data — Applicants will provide a complete set of fingerprints and sit for a digital photograph. Fingerprint checks will be used as part of the security threat assessment. Fingerprint templates extracted from the biometric data will be stored on the credential.
* Privacy and information security — The entire enrollment record (including all fingerprints collected) will be stored in the TSA system, which is protected through role-based entry, encryption and segmentation to prevent unauthorized use.