Feds, IATA Seek Tighter Cargo Security

With bombs found on aircraft originating from Yemen, the DHS and International Air Transport Association explore technology solutions to securing the global supply chain.

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Two bombs discovered in parcels from Yemen last week have prompted agencies in the U.S. and abroad to seek new technology to improve cargo security.

Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) spoke by phone with leaders of global shipping companies, such as UPS, DHL, FedEx and TNT, on Wednesday, according to the DHS. They discussed how to implement better screening technology and improve vetting of those who have access to cargo to help enhance supply-chain security.

Napolitano also this week spoke with International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Giovanni Bisignani about how the DHS and the private sector can better collaborate to secure the global supply chain.

A concerted effort among regulators in the U.S. and abroad to strengthen cargo security comes after two bombs were found last week concealed in computer printer ink cartridges being shipped from Yemen. One was defused only 17 minutes before it was set to explode.

Bisignani spoke at the AVSEC aviation-security conference this week, using the Yemen incident to call on federal regulators to improve global supply-chain security while praising counter-terrorist efforts that detected the bombs.

He encouraged governments to expand the use of the IATA's e-freight program, which converts freight documents to an electronic format so supply-chain managers can better track cargo routing, according to a press statement about his speech.

"As the industry increases e-freight volumes, governments must expand the use of e-freight from inbound shipments to outbound as well, and use this data to intelligently manage freight security, " Bisignani said.

He also addressed the topic of airport screening, calling for regulators to stop dragging their feet on government-certified technology to screen standard-size pallets and large items.

"There is some promising technology but it is taking far too long to move from the laboratory to the airport," he said. "We must speed up the process."

Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) Administrator John Pistole also spoke at the AVSEC conference on airport security in light of the Yemen incident. He stressed cutting-edge technology -- including scanners that can distinguish possible explosive liquids from harmless ones -- as a means to deter terrorist threats at airports.

Bisignani also called for international standards for data collection, particularly for the data authorities use to identify potential terrorists at airport checkpoints. He criticized some governments for not following the standards, and raised concerns about new data requirements in India, China, South Korea and Mexico that could pose costly exceptions to standardized data collection.

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