CBP Begins Talks with Privacy Advocates on Biometric Border Screening

The US Customs and Border Protection agency met with privacy advocates this week to discuss its expanding program of biometric border screening at US airports.

CBP Begins Talks with Privacy Advocates on Biometric Border ScreeningIn announcing the talks, the CBP asserted that it held them with the Department of Homeland Security and “representatives from the privacy community”, though it did not name the specific privacy groups involved.

The CBP has been gradually expanding tests of biometric passenger screening at airports in Texas, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Washington, and, most recently, Chicago, using facial recognition to match travelers’ faces to registered passengers lists. It is also working with private sector airlines to explore biometric boarding processes.

Multiple privacy advocates have raised concerns about biometric border screening, and not always in direct relation to the CBP specifically. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, for example, recently issued public comments urging the TSA to back away from its increasing use of biometric identification for passengers, primarily on the grounds of privacy rights.

In a statement, the Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner of the CBP’s Office of Field Operations, John Wagner, said his organization is “fully committed to meeting existing privacy laws and regulations while ensuring and safeguarding the privacy of all travelers.” The CBP also said this week’s meeting was “the first of numerous engagements planned with privacy groups.”

August 2, 2017 – by Alex Perala