US Customs Quietly Launches Facial Recognition Experiment at DC Airport

US Customs Quietly Launches Facial Recognition Experiment at DC Airport (Vice, March 18, 2015):

The next time you come back from overseas and flash your American passport at Washington, DC’s Dulles airport, customs officers might take a picture of you and use facial recognition technology to figure out if you really are who you say you are.

On March 11, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) quietly rolled out a new facial recognition pilot program to help custom officers catch “imposters,” or people using a passport that isn’t theirs, an agency spokesperson confirmed to Motherboard on Wednesday.

The pilot is part of a larger effort to modernize US customs practices with the use of new technologies as part of the Apex Air Entry and E?xit Re-Engineering (AEER) Project. And it’s only the first of at least ?three experiments labeled “Targeted Biometric Operations,” according to a previously undisclosed CBP presentation obtained by Motherboard.

The goal of the pilot program, called “1:1 Facial Recognition Air Entry Pilot,” is to figure out if facial recognition can be a useful tool in catching these imposters, but civil liberties activists worry this is the first step to create a database of law-abiding Americans’ mugshots, which could create unforeseen privacy risks.

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