Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a branch of The Department of Homeland Security, have filed a Request for Information to vendors seeking information and/or recommendations on biometric identity verification and body worn cameras.
According to the RFI, the aim is to outfit Border Patrol agents with body cameras with the “ability to run facial recognition against a database of preexisting images” and the “ability to compare a source document (e.g., identification provided) against the real-time image of the person.”
Agents would be able to turn the cameras on or off and the RFI includes a request for information on camera durability, and cloud storage for the footage, among other things.
The use of facial recognition technology by government agencies – including police forces – has been a controversial topic. Three cities – San Francisco, Oakland, and Summerville, Massachusetts – have recently banned government use of the technology.
The ACLU has led the charge for a national facial recognition ban as part of its larger campaign against police surveillance. The law banning the use of facial recognition technology in Oakland passed a few months ago with little debate, and states that any government or law agency purchase of the technology must first be approved by the city council.
This is not the first time CBP has explored outfitting Border Patrol agents with body-worn cameras. In 2015, they conducted a study on the matter and concluded that they were not yet a practical option due to cost and technological challenges as well as requiring approval by relevant unions.
Just last year, CBP conducted a test in which body cameras were worn by agents in nine locations, however those tests did not include facial recognition.
Since the 2015 study was conducted, CBP has moved forward with the adoption of biometric identity verification technology at several major airports around the country, and the move to file the RFI and the inclusion of facial recognition technology within it continues this trend.
October 18, 2019 – by Tony Bitzionis