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Fingerprinting Visitors Won't Offer Security
[ALL EDITIONS]
Newsday - Long Island, N.Y.
Author: Schneier, Bruce
Date: Jan 14, 2004
Start Page: A.29
Section: VIEWPOINTS
Abstract (Document Summary)

According to the Bush administration, the measures are designed to combat terrorism. As a security expert, it's hard for me to see how. The 9/11 terrorists would not have been deterred by this system; many of them entered the country legally on valid passports and visas. We have a 5,500-mile long border with Canada and another 2,000-mile long border with Mexico currently uncovered by the program. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people enter the country illegally each year from Mexico. Two million to 3 million people enter the country legally each year and overstay their visas. Capturing the biometric information of everyone entering the country doesn't make us safer.

Even if we could completely seal our borders, fingerprinting everyone still wouldn't keep terrorists out. It's not like we can identify terrorists in advance. The border guards can't say "this fingerprint is safe; it's not in our database" because there is no fingerprint database for suspected terrorists.

Retaliation is another worry. Brazil is now fingerprinting Americans who visit that country, and other countries are expected to follow suit. All over the world, totalitarian governments will use our fingerprinting regime to justify fingerprinting Americans who enter their countries. This means that your prints are going to end up on file with every tin-pot dictator from Sierra Leone to Uzbekistan. And Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge has already pledged to share security information with other countries.

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