The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is reportedly developing a “smart card” for US government employees that will require them to provide their fingerprints and other personal data in order to unlock a device that will let them access their data.
The card is reportedly being developed as part of the agency’s Homeland Security Innovation Program.
The Secure Identity Card, as the device is known, will enable employees to unlock devices with a single tap of a fingerprint or other physical authentication, according to a report from The Washington Post.
It will be used in some of the DHS’s most sensitive data centers, and will be required for all employees to use the device, the report added.
The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are reportedly in the process of developing a similar device, according the report.
Both departments are expected to begin rolling out the devices to employees in April.
However, the US government’s plans for the card may have been delayed due to privacy concerns.
The new technology will allow employees to be able to unlock their devices with either a fingerprint reader or a magnetic strip reader, according an ABC News report.
“The [DHS] Secure ID Card is intended to make government operations more secure,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told reporters on March 13.
“It will allow government employees to have a device with them to access secure data in a way that no other government employee can,” Kelly added.
“In fact, the device can be used by anyone.”
The DHS has been exploring the use of biometrics to track people in the past, and in March 2016, DHS Commissioner John Kelly unveiled a proposal to use biometric technology in the government’s national security programs.
In March 2017, Kelly said the DHS was working on biometrically tracking individuals, which could lead to “unnecessary and intrusive” biometric data collection.
However he stressed that the idea is “not to track you” and added that it was “not a blanket, government-wide policy.”
The Secure ID card would not require anyone to provide personal data.
Instead, it would only require a fingerprint scanner to unlock the device.
In some cases, employees will be able, for example, to tap on a fingerprint sensor on the device without any physical contact, and if they don’t tap the sensor, the fingerprint sensor will not register.
DHS will use the Secure ID cards to track individuals who are part of a biometric network, the Post reported.
The devices are being developed to track biometric networks of individuals that will eventually allow the government to “monitor and track individuals around the globe, potentially even the people who may be in a terrorist network,” the report said.
The DHS plan is reportedly for the device to be ready by the end of the year.
In addition to biometrical tracking, the card will also enable people to have “one-touch access to secure data” and would also allow for “a secure connection with a secure device,” the paper added.
It is unclear what the security measures the Secure Identity Cards will include, or whether the cards will have access to information that could be used for identity theft, as was reported in December 2016 by Reuters.
According to a December report from cybersecurity firm Kryptowire, the Secure Identification Card is expected to have the capability to track a person’s whereabouts, as well as their IP address and location.
“Currently, the only way to securely access sensitive data on the SecureID card is by using a password,” Kryptowires report said, adding that it could also be used to log into computers and social media accounts.
However the report also warned that the Secure IDs would be susceptible to “cybercriminals” who would “lure the card into the hands of someone who might steal sensitive data.”
The report also noted that “some of the SecureIDs technology does not meet the industry standard of secure encryption, and that companies may be hesitant to release the data of users who are not members of the secure network.”
A spokesperson for the DHS told the ABC News that it would not comment on specific plans, but that the department was “committed to the development of new technology that can help ensure the safety and security of the American people and their information.”