IATA Against Airlines Collecting Departing Passengers’ Fingerprints
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is against the proposal of the U.S. Congress to require airlines to be collectors of foreign travelers’ fingerprints as they leave the United States. IATA told All Headline News that such a move would result in long queues at check-in counters.
While Congress had approved the mandated fingerprint collection for incoming and outgoing foreigners, the law did not specify who takes charge of collecting the fingerprints. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pointed to airlines.
Ken Dunlap, IATA North America’s security chief, says, “This is a government function, not to be outsourced to the private sector.” IATA estimates it would take at least one minute to fingerprint each leaving passenger. The measure would lead to long lines, flight delays and cost millions.
DHS insists taking that extra measure is vital since it will assist the Department discover overstaying tourists and battle international terrorism. Robert Mocny, head of Homeland security’s finger program, explained to US Today, “It’s a better way of monitoring the movement of individuals we have an interest in without them hiding behind a fake name.”
He says airlines are in the best position to do the task because they already give an electronic list of incoming passengers to the federal government and turn over visitors’ forms filled in before foreigners leave the United States. Mocny says it would just take one second to take four fingerprints, which Douglas Lavin, IATA North America chief, disputes.
The life of the fingerprint plan depends on the Office of Management and Budget, which may approve, amend or reject the scheme. If it OKs the plan, the Office would still solicit public opinion on the scheme before it implements the plan. Its earliest implementation, if approved, would be early 2009.
According to All Headline News, Stewart Verdery, former Homeland security assistant secretary for border and transport policy, says the proposal will likely not prosper due to a strong lobby from the air carriers.