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Facial recognition lobbying up 4X in last 6 months as government activity increases


Disclosure forms indicate that lobbying in Washington, D.C. for biometric facial recognition by the travel security industry has increased by four times in the last six months, according to Bloomberg, with representatives of the aviation and cruise ship industries, biometrics vendors expressing support for biometric technology, but also reservations about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s biometric programs.

Bloomberg expects the lobbying to continue to increase as activity in preparation for new legislation and rule-making for facial recognition programs ramps up in the fall.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), meanwhile, has launched a 30-day trial of facial recognition at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas for voluntary travel document screening, FCW reports. Participants will not pass through gates during the process, but their travel documents will still be manually reviewed by a TSA employee. A previous trial of facial recognition for document checks at Los Angeles International Airport used e-gates equipped with document scanners and cameras.

Biometric and biographic data collected during the proof-of-concept will be transmitted to the DHS Science and Technology Directorate for evaluation and assessment, but will not be added to DHS’s operational databases, according to the project’s privacy assessment.

In an email to GovTech a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson says that the agency has now launched Biometric Exit operations at 22 airports in the U.S., has scanned the faces of more than 25 million passengers, caught 180 imposters and confirmed visa overstays by more than 20,000 travelers.

A pair of Senators recently demanded DHS produce an overdue report on its use of biometrics, in the latest of a series of expressions of concern over the program.

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