Biometric Borders and Counterterrorism   [open pdf - 947KB]

"This thesis investigates the ties between biometrics and state security by analyzing biometric identification and screening programs, their structural elements, and ultimately their effectiveness. Although biometric identification is rapidly becoming an international norm, quantitative assessments of biometric identification programs within the larger context of state and international security are non-existent. This thesis discusses the idea of identity, defines the identity problem, addresses identity's role in state security, and addresses how biometric identification contributes to this end. Individual characteristics of the most prominently used biometric identifiers are discussed in detail (face, fingerprint, and iris), as well as the overall concept of biometric identification. The ICAO [International Civil Aeronautics Organization] e-Passport program and the U.S. specific screening functions are presented to illuminate how biometric identifiers are used in practical applications. These programs, in turn, serve as the basis for the investigation of the effectiveness of biometric identification as it pertains to state security, focusing first on U.S. immigration and then on the broader context of international terrorism. Biometric identification has been largely credited with producing tangible security gains. This thesis seeks to tie a quantitative measure to that assertion and generate future discussion about the merits of biometrically based identification and screening."

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