TSA Approves Biometric Readers For TWIC Pilot

The Transportation Security Administration has approved four biometric readers from Sagem Morpho for deployment in critical pilot tests of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program at major U.S. ports including Los Angeles, New York and Long Beach, Calif.

“TSA approval means that Sagem Morpho biometric readers meet the highest standards for protecting the security of biometric information passed between a person, a TWIC card and the reader,” said James Conniff, Sagem Morpho senior director for access control. “Major U.S. ports participating in the TWIC pilot implementation now have approval to purchase and deploy the Sagem Morpho readers.”

In July, Sagem Morpho -- a developer of biometric solutions including fingerprint, iris and facial recognition -- submitted three fixed physical access control biometric readers and one handheld portable reader to TSA for ICE testing.

The Sagem Morpho products included were the MA120w, MA521, OMA521 Outdoor, and Morpho Check portable. The Morpho OMA521 and MA521 are the only biometric readers with “fake finger detection” capability to receive TSA approval. The OMA device is also one of the few such readers designed specifically for use in the harsh outdoor environments typically found in ports.

“Once deployed by TSA, the Sagem Morpho biometric readers will ensure that access to U.S. port facilities and vessels is strictly limited to workers with authentic TWIC smart cards containing unique biometric identification information,” Conniff said.

Mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act, the TWIC program is jointly administered by TSA and the U.S. Coast Guard. The goal of the program is to issue biometric credentials in the form of tamper-resistant smart cards to the nearly one million longshoremen, sailors, truck drivers and other laborers who work at U.S. port facilities and vessels.

TWIC cards and readers must meet Federal Information Processing Standards No. 201 (FIPS-201), which require nationwide interoperability to guarantee that biometric identification data can be recognized and verified at any maritime port.

TSA has already begun issuing TWIC cards. Each contains a Card Holder Unique Identifier (CHUID), which includes personal information (name, address, picture, etc.) and a Federal Agency Smart Credential Number (FASCN). Also, encrypted into the card is a unique digital biometric identifier, usually a fingerprint. This information can only be unlocked, or decrypted, with a privacy key uniquely associated with that card. To gain access to a secure port facility, the worker must have his or her TWIC card read by an approved device.

All Sagem Morpho products approved by the TSA TWIC ICE program feature contactless smart card readers and the capability to decrypt the biometric from the TWIC card using the unique TWIC privacy key read from the card.

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