If you thought leaving the country was hard enough already, think again. Now, the US government wants to submit travelers leaving the US to a biometric face scan at the airport.
Can’t Leave the Country Without a Face Scan
The Naked Security blog by Sophos reports that the “Biometric Exit” program — an initiative launched by the Obama administration — has been fast-tracked for completion by current US leaders.
This plan, if fully enacted, would place biometric face scanners at every international airport in the US. Customs and Border Protection agents will administer facial scans to every visa-holding foreign national leaving the United States.
The move to fast-track the program represents just a small step in a long process towards these kind of procedures, said OneLogin chief information security officer Alvaro Hoyos.
“Government agencies have been moving towards leveraging facial recognition for years now. Whether it was fast tracked or not is a moot point, because it was only a matter of time.”
Citing privacy concerns, Hoyos said that legal controls must keep facial recognition technology in check.
“People need assurances that their images will only be used for legitimate purposes,” he said.
Hoyos also raised the point of facial recognition accuracy and how it could cause problems if the technology does not receive proper controls:
“When you consider the current accuracy of facial recognition technology and how this differs based on age, gender, and ethnicity, this is not an area law enforcement should rapidly adapt without the proper legal safeguards in place.”
Sophos speculates that facial recognition technology will continue to grow and receive further implementation, citing a US $115 million funding round by biometric security firm CLEAR as evidence for this growth.
The Latest in Big Brother Technology
Facial recognition technology comes as the latest in a series of tech implementations used by the government to monitor citizens and immigrants.
Originally feared by hardcore libertarians and sci-fi conspiracy theorists, past visions of facial recognition involved covert implementations — hidden cameras that scan your face without your knowledge or consent.
Now, it seems like the government will scan faces overtly, in the open.
Facial recognition technology — similar to the highly unpopular body scanners used by the TSA — will surely draw ire from visa-holding immigrants currently living in the United States. Often accusing government immigration policies of racial discrimination, those legally residing in the US may now have another legitimate grievance with the treatment they receive.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), though, the Biometric Exit program aids in meeting a “mission need for data on foreign nationals departing the United States.” United States authorities need to know whether or not foreign nationals are visiting the US on legal terms, the DHS said.
“One of the core missions of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is to enforce and administer US immigration laws,” the DHS said in a report on the program.
“A key aspect of effective enforcement is the ability to discern individuals who are lawfully present in the United States from those. . .staying beyond their authorized period of stay.”
A number of airports have already employed pilot programs for face scanning procedures.
Is this face scanning program ethical? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Images via Digital Care, Washington Times