Aviation Security: Challenges in Using Biometric Technologies

GAO-04-785T Published: May 19, 2004. Publicly Released: May 19, 2004.
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One of the primary functions of any security system is the control of people moving 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. Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, laws have been passed that require a more extensive use of biometric technologies in the federal government. In 2002, 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 current state of the technology, and the application of biometrics to aviation security.

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