The Transportation Security Administration is requiring port and maritime workers and truckers to purchase a $159 identity document and undergo a “threat assessment” to provide secured access to seaports, airports and other such facilities, but doesn’t yet have the technology to read the cards.
Under the final rule (PDF) published Wednesday by the TSA, more than 750,000 employees will have to obtain the Transportation Workers Identity Credential within 20 months in order to gain access to secured areas of transportation facilities. To obtain a TWIC card, employees will have to submit 10 fingerprints and undergo a background check, or threat assessment, and an immigration status check. The cards will be valid for up to five years.
The credential will be a “smart card” containing a photograph and name of each worker, expiration date and serial number. An integrated circuit chip will store the holder’s fingerprint template, a personal identification number and a unique identifier.
Enrollment will begin in March at a small number of ports and gradually be phased in at other ports. — National Journal’s Technology Daily
But the TWIC problem has been plagued with implementation problems, including poor computer security and operational flaws such as card readers which fail when exposed to salt water and lost or stolen credentials not being revoked before replacements are issued.
Meanwhile, port workers, truckers and maritime industry employees will have to buy ID cards that for months will go virtually unchecked, said Leigh Strope, spokeswoman for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. . . .
But without the machines that can scan the cards to verify the users’ identities, the new IDs will be “no better than the cheap ID cards” currently in use, Strope said.
She said the rule also fails to take the high turnover rate in the trucking industry into account. She argued that the cards are too costly for workers who cannot typically use them for the duration that TSA anticipates. Truckers “are already scraping by on the bottom of the barrel just to maintain their trucks,” she said. — Government Executive
Truckers who drive for large trucking companies will absorb the expense fairly easily, but this is going to squeeze a lot of small firms and owner-operators, who already operate on tight budgets, scrounge for their next load at truckstops, live out of their trucks and don’t get home enough.
TSA expects to publish a final rule for card readers later this year, though no word on whether they’ll be designed to stand up to the salt water environments of many maritime ports, or whether computer security for the back-end systems which validate the ID cards will be sufficiently improved.