The initial apprehension to having facial recognition technology is beginning to move on to acceptance as the incident at the D.C airport stands witness of this fact. Just three days after the technology was implemented at Washington Dulles International Airport, the system identified an imposter attempting to make his way into the US using a fake passport.
On August 23, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a news about the 26-year-old male, who was traveling from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who presented a French passport to the CBP officer in the primary investigation phase. The facial comparison biometric system confirmed that his face did not match the picture in the passport. He was then sent to secondary inspections for a thorough examination. He appeared nervous during the checks and doubts were confirmed when a search revealed the man’s authentic Republic of Congo identification card concealed in his shoe.
NEC has collaborated with a total of 14 airports across the US to use the facial recognition technology in order to screen out people arriving in the US with false documents. This has reduced the average wait time for arriving international passengers by around four minutes.
According to the International Trade Administration that Quartz quoted back in February 2017, about 104,525 people arrive from overseas into the US (that number excludes people entering from Mexico and Canada) every day. Scanning such a large number of travelers each day is a daunting task for the CBP. Facial Recognition technology will definitely reduce the complexity that comes with traveler identification.
A gist of how the biometric system works
- The CBP first constructs a photo gallery of all the travelers on US-bound international aircraft using flight manifests and travelers’ documents (mainly passports and visas).
- When they touch down in America, TSA officers guide travelers to a camera next to a document checking podium. This camera snaps a picture and compares it to the one on their travel documents to determine if they’re indeed who they claim to be.
The CBP asserts that the system will not only help in nabbing terrorists and criminals before they can enter the US, but also speed up airport checks, and eventually allow travelers to get through security processes without a boarding pass.
CBP is clearly trying its best to use technology to make its operations more efficient and to detect security breaches at a scale never seen before. It remains to be seen if the benefits of using of facial recognition such as protecting the American people from external threats outweighs the dangers of over-reliance on this tech such as wrongly tagging people or infringing on individual freedom.
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