CBP built out more face biometrics capabilities during COVID doldrums of 2020
At least 23 million international and U.S. travelers found themselves in the Customs and Border Protection agency’s facial recognition system in fiscal 2020. CPB processed a total of 62.1 million people at airports last year.
According to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security, the system, which officials refer to as biometric facial comparison technology, had a match rate of 97 percent.
They claim that the biometric algorithm being used “shows virtually no measurable differential performance in results based on demographic factors.” Specific numbers were not published.
The department says it hopes the report will restore confidence for the traveling public.
CBP began a face-comparison test project in June 2018 at Orlando International Airport. The pilot was part of Global Entry, a program through which air travelers can complete some travel tasks using biometrics and kiosks. Since then, CBP has identified seven imposters at airports, and 285 at land border crossings.
The report states that processing time for people using the Orlando Global Entry biometric kiosks fell by something less than 90 percent, according to the report. The pilot has since been rolled out to 19 more airports. Simplified arrival biometric checks have also been launched at 18 airports, and CBP has partnered with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to implement biometrics at remaining checkpoints in the traveler journey.
More pilot biometric systems were deployed last year for pedestrians and vehicles at land facilities as well as at some cruise line facilities. The report states that seven cruise lines partnered with CBP on pilots.
DHS ultimately plans to use facial recognition as the default method to confirm the identity of all people entering and departing the U.S.