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One of the primary functions of any security system is the control of people into or out of protected areas, such as physical buildings, information systems, and our national border. Technologies called biometrics can automate the identification of people by one or more of their distinct physical or behavioral characteristics. The term biometrics covers a wide range of technologies that can be used to verify identity by measuring and analyzing human characteristics--relying on attributes of the individual instead of things the individual may have or know. In the last 2 years, laws have been passed that will require a more extensive use of biometric technologies in the federal government. Last year, GAO conducted a technology assessment on the use of biometrics for border security. GAO was asked to testify about the issues that it raised in the report, the use of biometrics in the federal government, and the current state of the technology.

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