DHS Plans to Expand Facial Recognition Border Checks
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to extend facial recognition checks to include all travelers into and out of the US, including US citizens who were previously exempt. The ruling was first reported earlier this week and signifies a huge expansion of what was previously practiced in terms of racial recognition checks at the border. Currently, the checks scan the faces of non-US citizens crossing the border, matching them with photos that the government has. The new facial recognition practices will help crackdown on passengers using fraudulent US travel documents and identifying suspected criminals or terrorists.
Facial recognition is used through the “Biometric Exit” program, which was introduced by US Customs and Border Protection in 2015. The program was only operation in 17 airports as of last spring, but the DHS plans to increase that number to 20 by the end of 2021. It is unclear whether facial recognition of US citizens will be implemented only at airports or whether it will extend to include citizens traveling by car to Canada or Mexico. The ruling is in its final stages, but will not be publicized in its entirety until the process is complete. The new ruling places many citizens on edge after incidents like the 2015 Office of Personnel Management data breach that resulted in the theft of 5.6 million citizens’ fingerprint data. The ACLU stated that citizens should not have to submit to the invasive practice as a condition of exercising their right to travel.