U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is moving forward with another facial recognition pilot program. This time, the technology is being installed at Philadelphia International Airport, where it will be deployed for international travelers on selected departing flights with Qatar, British Airways, Lufthansa, and American Airlines.
During the pilot, passengers will encounter a facial recognition kiosk at their gate, and will be asked to submit to a scan before boarding their flight. That scan will then be matched against photos in a pre-existing government database. Passengers will be allowed to board the flight if a match is found. If not, they will need to submit their passport and boarding pass to a human attendant for review.
U.S. citizens can opt out of the program, in which case they will also need to check in with an attendant. According to CBP, the photos taken with the kiosks will be deleted after twelve hours, and will not be stored in a database. The scan is mandatory for foreign nationals.
The pilot is expected to last for 45 days, and makes Philadelphia the 27th U.S. airport to receive the biometric technology. The CBP program expanded to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport with a Simplified Arrival system in September. The organization has also installed facial recognition technology at land borders between Mexico and the United States.
Though the screening is optional for U.S. citizens, CBP had been hoping to make biometric screening mandatory for all travelers – including U.S. nationals – as recently as December. However, the organization has at least temporarily abandoned those plans, thanks in large part to resistance from Democratic lawmakers and privacy advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union, who raised concerns about the potential violation of civil rights.
The Philadelphia deployment comes only days after CBP announced that it would be expanding the scope of its Global Entry program, which leverages facial recognition.
Source: KYW News Radio
January 20, 2020 – by Eric Weiss