CBP says it may extend airport face recognition to US citizens

May 9, 2017 - 

The US government has rolled out a new plan led by Customs and Border Protection that could make facial recognition scans mandatory for US citizens in addition to foreign visitors, according to a report by The Verge.

The move comes a month after it was revealed that the Trump administration is planning to expand the use of biometric facial recognition systems at airports around the United States.

Built around the biometric exit program, the CBP-led initiative will document US citizens when they reenter the United States or pass through TSA checkpoints.

Dubbed by CBP officials as “The Biometric Pathway”, the initiative could eventually grow into an airport-wide system.

“We’re going to build this for [Biometric] Exit. We’re out of time, we have to,” John Wagner, deputy assistant commissioner at CBP, said at the ConnectID conference last week. “But why not make this available to everyone? Why not look to drive the innovation across the entire airport experience?”

Wagner said that CBP officials could use facial recognition to identify travelers arriving in the US, including those citizens with passports.

Once expanded to TSA checkpoints or airport lounge access, the system would also be applied to domestic travelers, regardless of their citizenship.

“As soon as you check in for arrivals or departure, we’re going to stage your photo in that database,” Wagner said. “We want to make it available for every transaction in the airport where you have to show an ID today.”

The biometric exit project, which aims to verify visa holders’ identities as they leave the country, is currently undergoing a trial on a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo. Seven additional pilots are set to launch at airports throughout the summer.

The Trump administration attempted to expedite the project by making it one of the focal points of their executive order on immigration.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.