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Janice Kephart: Biometric passports are needed now

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We may never know what happened aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 as it has disappeared somewhere over the South China Sea, but new reports this week say stolen Austrian and Italian passports were used to book two airline tickets on that flight.

Janice Kephart, founder of the Secure Identity & Biometrics Association (SIBA) and former 9/11 Commission border counsel says biometric passports need to be used starting now.

Kephart says quick implementation of biometric passports at borders, including a biometric exit program in the United States, can and should be implemented.

Biometrics are pretty simple on the surface, they assure that people are who they say they are, and makes it nearly impossible for identities to be stolen and travel documents to be used illegally.
The 9/11 Commission recommended biometric borders in the past.

"Fully biometric passports and readers can prevent stolen passport holders from successfully bypassing immigration authorities," said Kephart. "Moreover, biometric borders are now cost-effective, extremely fast, and are currently enabling countries like New Zealand to incorporate airline check-in with immigration check-out, building seamless convenience for the traveler and safer skies."

Can biometrics sniff out terrorists?

Terrorists travel clandestinely throughout the wprld to meet, train, plan, case, and gain access to targets. International travel poses great danger to them and biometric passports could put a stop to their plans.

The 9/11 reports said Malaysia had what some would call an "open entrance and exit."

Malaysia was viewed by the late Osama bin Laden as an "excellent" venue for meetings because Muslims could get in without a visa, including those with Saudi and Gulf passports. See 9/11 Commission Final Report at pp. 59-60.

There are still many questions to be answered. What remains clear is that these individuals should never have been to receive and use a stolen passports to gain access to international travel.

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