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Major airports and airlines in the United States will be using facial recognition technology to scan all international travelers by 2021.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is working to complete and implement the use of facial biometric system on the country’s 20 busiest airports. This initiative is in compliance with a 2017 executive order, which aims to protect the country from external threats. Currently, 17 international airports are already using facial recognition system.
The system will be scanning all entering and exiting airport passengers, including US citizens. Its use is expected to affect around 16,300 flights weekly and over 100 million travelers in the country.
With the new facial biometric system, the CBP intends to ease and speed up airport transactions between travelers and CBP officials. Before boarding their flight, travelers’ ages 14 to 79 will have their photos taken. Afterward, the image will be cross-checked with the photo on the travelers’ passport, and once a match between the photos is confirmed, travelers can board the flight.
The CBP asserts that the use of facial biometric technology on airports will pave the way for a smoother travel experience since most travelers find the technology hassle-free.
However, despite its supposed convenience, the facial biometric system brought up certain issues related to security and privacy.
Research organization Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) raised concerns over the security of passenger information. According to EPIC, there are no restrictions on how exactly partnering airlines will use the images they will gather. In addition, the CBP did not mention any guidelines for the technology companies handling images from the system.