Entry points across the US have begun 'biometric' security checks on business travellers and vacationers entering the country. This new security measure, in which the incoming traveler is photographed and electronically fingerprinted, covers visitors from 27 countries, including the UK, Japan and Germany.
These security measures were approved by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and have been in effect since January for citizens of most other nations. Information taken is matched to databases to inform customs officials of anyone trying to enter the country that might be wanted for crimes, immigration problems or suspected terrorist activities. Homeland Security officials claim access to the information will be restricted, to ensure privacy.
Despite some early misgivings about the new security checks, travelers appear to understand the reasons behind the new system and are willing to put up with the slight inconvenience, in exchange for extra safety. An estimated 33,000 visitors will be affected every day, slowing transit time down by maybe 15 seconds.
The 27 countries included on the list are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.