The Border Patrol Station in McAllen Texas will be testing iris scan technology for the next two weeks. The Dept. of Homeland Sec (DHS) will be testing machines than can be used from 3 to 4 feet away including one that simply works as people walk by. The test will help the department determine how useful these scanners might be in the future on a broader basis.
Iris scan technology stores digital images of the iris in a database and is considered much quicker than using fingerprints. Recent enhancements have allowed the scanners to be used from further distances instead of the earlier scanners that could only operate from a few inches. This makes them much more viable for government agencies and financial institutions.
The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed concerns that the cameras could be used covertly. ACLU lawyer Christopher Calabrese fears that the cameras could be used covertly. “If you can identify any individual at a distance and without their knowledge, you literally allow the physical tracking of a person anywhere there’s a camera and access to the Internet,” he told Thomas Frank from USA Today.
Financial companies hope the scans can stop identity fraud, said Jeff Carter of Global Rainmakers, a New York City firm developing the technology. “Iris is going to completely reshape the fraud environment,” he said.