Homeland Security Technology and Ethical Issues Discussion

Setting Aside of Traditional Ethics to Manage the Crisis or Defeat an Adversary

One ethical dilemma according to Mullikin and Rahman (2010) is loss of citizen’s privacy as a way of protecting the country from terrorist attacks. This is a mighty price that is paid by an individual in order to be protected. Wire trapping is another ethical dilemma that sets aside traditional ethics in order to get into information against terrorism. This action has been criticized, stating that the government is too big and should thus be limited and controlled in what they do. However, this is set aside as the President has power to collect intelligence data which speeds up the process and avoids the bureaucracy red tape.

The inherited debates on civil and race rights are becoming sterile and useful prescription for these complex problems that results from law enforcement imperatives in the multiracial, rambunctious and large society (Mullikin & Rahman, 2010). They arise from the thinking that it frees itself from reflexive obedience to familiar signals. There continues to be debates on American’s civil liberties, but the debates must be constructive and offer policy recommendations.


Biometric Solutions (2016) explains that the technology of Biometric provides a way to uniquely recognize humans based on their behavioral and physical characteristics, and can be used in verifying or establishing an individual’s personal identity who were previously enrolled.  One way that biometrics are currently used is fingerprint recognition. This type of biometric has for long been applied by Homeland Security for border control. As part of the U.S visitation program, non-US citizens between 14 and 79 years old entering the country have all their fingerprints taken through electronic means.  The fingerprints of immigrants and tourists are cross checked with use of different databases as a way of identifying illegal immigrants, criminals and terrorists.

Although there are ethical issues in the use of fingerprints recognition technology like: stigmatization due to its use in criminals, conflict with a person’s belief or value and the fact that it determines human rights for anonymity and privacy, I believe finger recognition is ethical. This is because of the many threats across the world like illegal immigration, terrorism, identity theft and fraud, security and detection issues, making it essential to freeze a person’s identity for later verification and identification. Therefore, the advantages of fingerprints recognition make it ethical.

Opponents on Biometrics

According to NIST (2013), some biometrics are meeting public resistance due to historical precedents. Generally, biometrics is associated with stigmatizations due to the longstanding application of fingerprints to criminals. They also raise concerns over the loss of rights and privacy. Some biometrics aspects bring back the memories of biological determinism which tries to prove that criminals have specific deformities or physiognomic attributes.

Storing and Maintaining Biometrics

Homeland Security (2017) explains that the biometrics identification services are provided by DHS to protect the nation through its Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM). This office supplies the technology for sharing, storing and matching biometric data. The OBIM is the designated DHS biometric identity provider which maintains – in the U.S government the largest biometric repository. The Automated Biometric Identification System or IDENT system is maintained and operated by OBIM. The IDENT is currently processing more than 300,000 biometric transactions and holding more than 200 million unique identities daily.

I believe that the biometrics data are adequately secured because DHS only shares critical biometric information with use of advance privacy controls and data filtering in supporting the Homeland security, justice and defense mission. Storing biometrics is important as it assists in identifying anyone, anytime and anywhere. However this technology is risky due to its unethical consideration. Surveillance conducted through biometrics like face scans violates the freedom of rights of the citizens. 


Biometric Solutions,. (2016). Biometric Applications. Retrieved from http://www.biometric-solutions.com/biometric-applications.html

Homeland Security,. (2017). Biometrics. Homeand Security. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/biometrics

Mullikin, A. & Rahman, S. (2010). THE ETHICAL DILEMMA OF THE USA GOVERNMENT WIRETAPPING. International Journal Of Managing Information Techn Ology (IJMIT),, 2(4). Retrieved from http://airccse.org/journal/ijmit/papers/1110ijmit03.pdf

NIST,. (2013). The Current and Future Applications of Biometric Technologies. NIST. Retrieved from https://www.nist.gov/speech-testimony/current-and-future-applications-biometric-technologies

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