Six major airports in the United States are participating in pilot programs that require Americans traveling abroad to submit to facial-recognition scans when leaving the country, the Associated Press reported. Airports in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, New York City and Washington, D.C. have all started to implement the biometric scanning procedures, with plans to expand the program to a number of other high-volume international airports across the country by the start of next year. News of the biometric scans being active at airports and used to scan American citizens prior to boarding their flights is the latest development in the increased effort by the Donald Trump administration to implement strong vetting procedures for those coming and going from the country. U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Larry Panetta spoke about adoption of facial recognition technology earlier this year at the Border Security Expo, where he suggested there was already enough information in the government's systems that facial recognition technology could already identify many travelers. "We currently have everyone's photo, so we don't need to do any sort of enrollment," Panetta said at the event.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency's new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics--from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it. The records DHS plans to include in HART will chill and deter people from exercising their First Amendment protected rights to speak, assemble, and associate.
The Donald Trump administration is planning to expand the use of biometric facial recognition systems at airports around the United States. News of the expansion comes from U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Larry Panetta, who spoke about adoption of facial recognition technology at the Border Security Expo. "We currently have everyone's photo, so we don't need to do any sort of enrollment," Panetta said. "We have access to the Department of State records so we have photos of US Citizens, we have visa photos, we have photos of people when they cross into the US and their biometrics are captured into [Department of Homeland Security database] IDENT." The project to equip airports around the country with facial recognition systems is known as Biometric Exit.
The US government is deploying a new facial recognition system at the southern border that would record images of people inside vehicles entering and leaving the country. The pilot program, scheduled to begin in August, will build on secretive tests conducted in Arizona and Texas during which authorities collected a "massive amount of data", including images captured "as people were leaving work, picking up children from school, and carrying out other daily routines", according to government records. The project, which US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed to the Guardian on Tuesday, sparked immediate criticisms from civil liberties advocates who said there were a host of privacy and constitutional concerns with an overly broad surveillance system relying on questionable technology. Already the largest and most funded federal law enforcement agency in its own right, the border patrol is part of the umbrella agency US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP's approximately 60,000 employees are split in four major divisions: officers who inspect imports; an air and marine division; agents who staff ports of entry – international airports, seaports and land crossings; and the approximately 20,000 agents of the border patrol, who are concentrated in the south-west, but stationed nationwide.