Monday, September 10, 2007

Fuzzy Math

So, now we're going from 2 prints required for a visa application, to 10 prints required for a visa application. I can imagine the conversation that led to this decision: "Hey, if two prints makes us secure, TEN prints will make us FIVE TIMES as secure!" "Yeah, yeah -- that's good! Constituents love security!"

So, does fingerprinting visa applicants make us more secure? Hard to say. 'Security' is one of those words that is used to mean so many things, it ends up meaning nothing. Same with 'terrorism'. You have to work to really pin down what the person is trying to signify. Just how would you go about quantifying security? When is one able to say, "Yes, I am, in fact, secure."? I can say that fingerprinting applicants is an excellent way to catch visa fraud. But I'm not so sure that 10 prints instead of 2 prints will make catching visa fraud 5 times as likely.

Retinal scans, however... that's where the REAL money is. Write your congressmen.

11 comments:

Lee said...

We will never be truly safe until we do ass scanning. 10 print is so sucky - its way slower, the verify finger thing does not work at all if you do not have a cleared american to take the 10 prints, and the software is buggy. oh well. at least we have not done 100% FR at my post. Yet.

Consul-At-Arms said...

Ten print scanning?

Don't get me started....

Anonymous said...

Why bother with the 10 prints when the answer from management is "it's the end of the DV season, hold your nose and issue" when you know the person(s) in front of you are lying.

Why bother?! It would save a few positions, eh?

NoZe said...

"Ass scanning"...I like it!

fsowalla said...

You forgot to mention how the FBI wants $65 of the application fee now to do the 10-print scans. No way the A/S will agree to that.

Consul-At-Arms said...

fsowalla:

What other intelligence/security apparat gets other agencies to collect information for them and charges them for the privilege?

Kara said...

Guess you're still in Japan. I was beginning to wonder if I was getting through. Been wondering why I haven't heard from you...

Carey said...

ass scanning-this is much more interesting than reading Waltz, and I get to laugh to myself in the GW library. Thanks!

FSO Globetrotter said...

Hey, we are going to 10-prints in a few weeks. How much has it really slowed the process down?

On to a serious, real question I am facing--can you used alcohol-based wipes to clean the finger print scanners, or do they have to be water based?

Thanks!
FSO GT

Katie said...

It depends on which process you're using now. In our model, the officers take the ten prints at time of the interview (rather than double checking the FSNs' work or having an EFM do it). I'd say this adds an average of maybe 15 seconds per person over the officers taking two prints. The main delays (besides just having one more step) are from computer problems, and from people needing time to rearrange what they're holding in order to put their two thumbs together on the scanner. Luckily, CA Support (after a lot of reporting from posts) has provided some patches and fixes for the computer malfunctions; it's a good idea to lower your numbers pretty drastically at the start until your computer people work out the bugs. For the first week of ten print adjudications, we had at least one computer offline for the better part of each morning due to hardware and software incompatibility issues. Sometimes, this could only be fixed by reinstalling the scanner... or NIV, or both. These problems look to have been mostly resolved at our post, but you'll need good tech support.

As for cleaning, there are kits provided with each scanner. We use the silicone membranes, which results in (generally speaking) very clear prints. Though the screens are cleaned with alcohol wipes (pretty sure they're alcohol based), the membranes over the screens can only be cleaned with the special 'membrane cleaning tape' from the kit (it appears suspiciously similar to clear packing tape, but what do I know). This has been somewhat of a problem in Osaka, since our applicants occasionally pull out tissues and try to clean the scanners for us, bless them. It's a good idea to take away anything from the interviewing windows (wet wipes, tissues, wax) that might sully the membranes.

As a complete side note, the computer errors wouldn't be nearly so annoying if one of the error messages in the print screen weren't ungrammatical.

FSO Globetrotter said...

Thanks a million for taking the time to answer my question. :) Love you blog, btw.