Customs and Border Protection is scrambling to implement a facial recognition identification system for all international passengers, including American citizens, at the top 20 U.S. airports by 2021, BuzzFeed News is reporting.
The website attributed its information to documents obtained by the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center.
The goal is to use the technology on the passengers aboard 16,300 flights per week. President Donald Trump had issued an executive order in March 2017 to expedite deployment of the system.
But BuzzFeed News noted in the rush to get the system up and operating that there is an absence of proper vetting and regulatory safeguards. In addition, there are questionable biometric confirmation rates and few legal guardrails, according to the website.
“Facial recognition is becoming normalized as an infrastructure for checkpoint control,” said Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union. “It's an extremely powerful surveillance technology that has the potential to do things never before done in human history. Yet the government is hurtling along a path towards its broad deployment — and in this case, a deployment that seems quite unjustified and unnecessary.”
But CBP officials strongly defend the program.
“CBP is solving a security challenge by adding a convenience for travelers,” a spokesperson said.
The Transportation Security Administration said it first began testing facial recognition technology at John F. Kennedy International Airport through a collaboration with Customs and Border protection. The use of the technology has been expanded to other airports over the years.
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