US to Set Up Facial Recognition Scanners in its Major Airports

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. implement / ˈɪmpləˌmɛnt / (v) – to put something into effect or action

    Airport officials have agreed to implement the new policy immediately.

  2. compliance / kəmˈplajəns / (n) – the act of following an order or a request

    The management is expecting employees’ compliance with the new work schedule.

  3. transaction / trænˈzækʃən / (n) – the process of having professional interactions with a person or a company

    I always make sure that my bank transactions are well-documented.

  4. cross-check / ˈkrɑːsˌtʃɛk / (v) – to review if something is accurate by checking other sources

    They cross-checked the photocopy of the file with its original version.

  5. hassle-free / ˈhæsəl friː / (adj) – without a problem or inconvenience

    The airline’s automated services made payments hassle-free.


Read the text below.

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.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with the implementation of the facial recognition technology in major US airports? Why or why not?
• Aside from possibly implementing guidelines, how can the CBP ensure security and privacy of the travelers’ information?

Discussion B

• How strict should governments be in letting travelers/foreigners in their country? Explain.
• What other security measures do you think should be implemented in airports? Explain.