Facial Recognition Technology Catches Imposter at Airport, Officials Say

According to a statement from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, a man who attempted to enter the country from Brazil travelling on a French passport was detained as an imposter at Washington, D.C.’s Dulles airport with the help of a newly installed facial-recognition technology.

It was just three days ago that the airport had installed the new cutting-edge facial comparison system which helps to automatically match the picture on a man’s passport, visa, and other travel documents with the face of the man.

The man, according to the CBP, got “visibly nervous” when he was sent to secondary screening. When he was searched, the authorities found an ID card of the Republic of Congo below an an insert in his shoe. The photo on that card matched with the man’s face.

Any attempt to enter the US using forged documents is a criminal offence.

An image of the ID in the man’s shoes with some redactions was issued by the CBP. However, no independent verification about the use of facial-recognition technology to trigger the alarm was not provided by the agency.

14 airports have bene installed with the facial-comparison system as a pilot project and started on August 20. The aim of the use of the technology is to gain better accuracy and increase processing speed of screening of arriving passengers from international destinations. The comparison scan is allowed to be denied by American citizens currently.

According to the privacy policy of the CBP, the agency does not store the “biographic data” captured for any travelers and transmission of the photos is only for identity verification. It takes just 12 hours post verification to detect photos of U.S. citizens and for non-U.S. citizens, it is done within 14 days.

Since the introduction of the systems that had any potential for matching faces in video against a database, as well as other recording faces for future matching or other purposes has come under criticism. Such systems have been installed in many public places, such as airports, and public accommodations, such as malls and football stadiums.

There are chances that the technology can be used by the government for continuous surveillance without any suspicion of wrongdoing, alleges the American Civil Liberties Union. Further the organization claims that the government can also use the technology and the motor-vehicle agency photographic databases for identifying and tracking of people without the knowledge of the concerned people.

Concerns have also been raised by the accuracy of the systems and there are chances that the systems could provide false positives because of inaccurate matches. That could create trouble for innocent people. This was recently demonstrated by the ACLU using a version of Amazon’s Rekognition facial-recognition technology which has been marketed to various organizations, including police departments.

(Adapted from Forbes.com)


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