Follow The Orator Network

S 744

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 744

To authorize certain Department of State personnel, who are responsible for examining and processing United States passport applications, to access relevant information in Federal, State, and other records and databases, for the purpose of verifying the identity of a passport applicant and detecting passport fraud, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 6 (legislative day, April 5), 2011

Mr. CARDIN (for himself, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mr. LIEBERMAN, and Mr. KERRY) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To authorize certain Department of State personnel, who are responsible for examining and processing United States passport applications, to access relevant information in Federal, State, and other records and databases, for the purpose of verifying the identity of a passport applicant and detecting passport fraud, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Passport Identity Verification Act'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:

      (1) A United States passport is an official government document issued by the Department of State, which can be obtained by United States nationals.

      (2) A valid United States passport has many uses, including--

        (A) certifying an individual's identity and verifying that a person is a United States national;

        (B) allowing the passport holder to travel to foreign countries with an internationally recognized travel document;

        (C) facilitating international travel;

        (D) obtaining further identification documents; and

        (E) setting up bank accounts.

      (3) A United States national may obtain a United States passport for the first time by applying in person to a passport acceptance facility with 2 passport photographs, proof of United States nationality, and a valid form of photo identification, such as a driver's license. Passport acceptance facilities are located throughout the United States.

      (4) Because United States passports issued under a false identity enable individuals to conceal their movements and activities, passport fraud could facilitate--

        (A) acts of terrorism;

        (B) espionage; and

        (C) other crimes, such as illegal immigration, money laundering, drug trafficking, tax evasion, and alien smuggling.

      (5) Since malicious individuals may seek to exploit potential vulnerabilities in the passport issuance process, it is important that personnel who are involved in the granting, refusal, revocation, or adjudication of United States passport applications have access to relevant information contained in Federal, State, and other records and databases for the purposes of lawfully--

        (A) verifying the identity of a passport applicant;

        (B) detecting passport fraud; and

        (C) denying or revoking a passport.

      (6) In its final report, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (commonly known as the `9/11 Commission')--

        (A) noted the ease with which terrorists could obtain United States identity documents, such as fraudulent driver's licenses, birth certificates, and other sources of identification, which could be used by terrorists to obtain United States passports that would allow them to board airlines, rent cars, open bank accounts, and carry on other activities needed to facilitate their mission; and

        (B) concluded that funding and completing a `biometric entry-exit screening system' for travelers to and from the United States is essential to our national security.

      (7) The use of biometrics and technology for foreign nationals who are visiting the country--

        (A) helps to make travel simple, easy, and convenient for legitimate visitors; and

        (B) dramatically improves the ability to detect the activities of those who wish to do harm or violate the laws of the United States.

SEC. 3. ACCESS TO RELEVANT INFORMATION IN FEDERAL, STATE, AND OTHER RECORDS AND DATABASES.

    Section 104 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1104) is amended by adding at the end the following:

    `(f) Authorized Data Sharing Activities- (1) For data sharing purposes only, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, when Department of State personnel authorized by the Secretary of State to grant, refuse, revoke, deny, or adjudicate United States passports are lawfully engaged in authorized data sharing activities relating to the granting, refusal, revocation, or adjudication of such passports, such activities shall be considered law enforcement activities that involve the administration of criminal justice (as defined in section 20.3 of title 28, Code of Federal Regulations).

    `(2) Designated Department of State personnel with the authority to grant, refuse, revoke, deny or adjudicate United States passports are engaged in `authorized data sharing activities' (as set forth in paragraph (1) and the regulations promulgated pursuant to section 4 of the Passport Identity Verification Act) if such personnel act in compliance with such regulations and are seeking to lawfully--

      `(A) verify the identity of a passport applicant;

      `(B) detect passport fraud; or

      `(C) deny or revoke a passport.'.

SEC. 4. DATA SHARING REGULATIONS, PROCEDURES, AND POLICIES.

    (a) Rulemaking- Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall promulgate final regulations to implement section 104(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as added by section 3. Such regulations shall--

      (1) specify which Department of State personnel have a need to know and will be given access to the relevant information contained in the records and databases described in such section;

      (2) require Department of State personnel who will be given access to the relevant information contained in the records and databases described in such section to successfully complete all ongoing training and certification requirements for such access;

      (3) require Department of State personnel to access the relevant information contained in such records and databases for the lawful purposes set forth in such section and this Act;

      (4) ensure that the relevant information contained in the records and databases described in such section, are only accessed for the lawful purposes set forth in such section and this Act;

      (5) ensure that the Department of State personnel accessing the information contained in such records and databases--

        (A) do not violate the security, confidentiality, or privacy of such information;

        (B) successfully complete all ongoing training and certification requirements for access to such information; and

        (C) do not have access to any medical, religious, or other personal information that is irrelevant to the lawful purposes set forth in such section and this Act;

      (6) establish audit and reporting procedures and policies to verify that the information contained in such records and databases is only being accessed for the lawful purposes set forth in such section and this Act;

      (7) require prompt reporting to Under Secretary of State for Management, of--

        (A) any unauthorized access to the information contained in such records and databases; or

        (B) any access to the information contained in such records and databases for unauthorized purposes; and

      (8) require the Under Secretary of State for Management to conduct a regular review of--

        (A) the audit and reporting procedures and policies to determine whether such procedures and policies are working properly; and

        (B) the ongoing training and certification requirements to determine whether there has been compliance with such requirements.

    (b) Defined Term- As used in this Act, the term `relevant information' means information relating to a person that is contained in records and databases maintained by any Federal, State, tribal, territory, or local government department or agency, or private entity or organization, which contains--

      (1) criminal history information;

      (2) driver's license or motor vehicle information (including photographs);

      (3) marriage, birth, or death information;

      (4) naturalization or immigration information; or

      (5) other information that can be used to lawfully verify the identity of the passport applicant, detect passport fraud, or deny or revoke a passport, except for medical, religious, and other personal information and records which are irrelevant to such purposes.

SEC. 5. STUDY AND REPORT.

    (a) Study-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the United States Postmaster General, shall carry out a study to determine--

        (A) if persons applying for or renewing a United States passport should provide biometric information, including photographs that meet standards that enhance the ability of facial recognition technology--

          (i) to verify the identity of the passport applicant and user; and

          (ii) to detect passport fraud; and

        (B) if technology should be employed to verify the authenticity of driver's licenses and other identity documents that are presented at passport acceptance facilities.

      (2) FACTORS- In carrying out the study under paragraph (1), the Secretary of State shall consider all relevant factors, including--

        (A) how the biometric information and technology would be used and stored;

        (B) the costs and benefits to be gained; and

        (C) the effect on the individual's privacy and the economy.

    (b) Report-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the congressional committees set forth in paragraph (2) that contains the results of the study carried out under subsection (a), including a recommendation with respect to the use of biometric information and technology to verify the identity of a passport applicant and user and to detect passport fraud.

      (2) CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES- The congressional committees set forth in this paragraph are--

        (A) the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate;

        (B) the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate;

        (C) the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate;

        (D) the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives;

        (E) the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives;

        (F) the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives; and

        (G) the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives.

END