The Department of Homeland Security is inviting input from the trade community on the pros and cons of the potential use of electronic cargo security devices. Ellen McClain, deputy assistant secretary of homeland security for trans-border policy, told an April 24 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (COAC) that a background paper will be published in the near future and that DHS is seeking responses from COAC by its next meeting in July.

McClain said DHS and CBP have been pilot testing reusable ECSDs since 2013. There are a number of potentially significant benefits to the government from such devices, she said, including near real-time tracking of cargo through the supply chain, enhanced risk targeting, and improved identification of cargo diversion and tampering. However, the tests have also identified a number of challenges, including operational, regulatory and policy concerns, cost issues, and questions about the data that would be collected and how it would be processed and kept secure.

CBP now wants COAC to help it determine if there is a path forward that would take into account the government’s security interests but also offer commercial benefits that would encourage trade community members to use ECSDs.

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