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The Practical Implications of the WHTI June 28, 2009

Posted by Matthew in USA, WHTI.
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Editor’s Note: This is a great article about the upsides of the WHTI, and why it was put in place. It doesn’t discuss the privacy issues in regards to the implementation of the WHTI, but rather focuses on how the anti-fraud measures will make it harder for fraudsters to enter the U.S. This article is reprinted with permission of www.stratfor.com.

Fred Burton was formerly the Deputy Chief of the Counter-Terrorism division of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), and is currently STRATFOR‘s VP of Counterterrorism and Corporate Security.

By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

On June 1, 2009, the land and sea portion of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) will go into effect. The WHTI is a program launched as a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and intended to standardize the documents required to enter the United States. The stated goal of WHTI is to facilitate entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors while reducing the possibility of people entering the country using fraudulent documents. (more…)

Starting tomorrow, think of Canada as a foreign country : The Buffalo News May 31, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Border Crossings, Canada, Land Crossing, NEXUS Card, Passports, USA, WHTI.
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As this article from the Buffalo News reminds us, on June 1, 2009, 12:01 AM, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative takes effect.

As the FARK.com headline for the article notes: “This just in: Canada is not part of the United States. Who knew?”

Needless to say, the line-ups to apply for a NEXUS card is likely quite long at this point, as well as the line-ups for passports on both sides of the border.

Of Passports and Airport Crossings March 27, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Air Crossing, NEXUS Card, Passports, WHTI.
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When crossing the border by air, you still want to bring your passport(s). Although the NEXUS card has the machine-readable ID text (including issuing country, etc.), airlines and security officials still want your passport instead.

The NEXUS card is listed as a “WHTI-Compliant Travel Document” on the US Department of State website. Although it was accepted at the Customs agent, when I presented it to the airline employee and the security officials insisted on seeing a passport. This might be standard due to airline policy/security policy/etc. that have not been updated to include NEXUS and other WHTI-compliant, Trusted Traveler cards.

Traveler beware: a trusted traveler card is all you are required to carry, at least by customs agents; however, it seems airlines and security officials aren’t quite on the same page. Don’t forget to take your passport with you when you travel.

New NEXUS Cards Issued March 8, 2009

Posted by Matthew in NEXUS Card.
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I recently received a new NEXUS card in the mail. It looks a little less like it was printed with an off-the-shelf card printer and a more like the watermarked, foil-imprinted government ID card you’d expect.

A sample of the new NEXUS card from the Canada Border Services Agency.

A sample of the new NEXUS card from the Canada Border Services Agency.

The domain they send you to activate it in the accompanying letter is a secure website: https://goes-app… (note the ‘S’ after http). Force of habit led me to look right past the S, and type in http://goes-app… I sat there wondering why the page wasn’t loading.  With a quick check later, I realized my mistake. Once on the site, the card can be activated without even logging in; All you are required to do is enter two numbers that are found on the back of the card.

New security features:

  1. Black and white picture, interleaved with color background
  2. Color-changing “North America” foil seal on the top right
  3. Multicolor “Plane, Car, Boat” reflective overlay
  4. RFID-blocking cover (see below)

Even more fun? It came with a copper-lined shield (packaged along side it) to keep it in when not in use. This is the kind of thing that I hope the new RFID credit cards come with. That, or I guess I could always make an RFID-blocking wallet.

This raises some interesting questions: (Yes, it’s tin-foil hat time…) (more…)