Facial recognition for Biometric Exit seems to be taking center stage. The modality is rising up the U.S. Customs and Border Protection list, as the agency works to meet the longstanding, and recently expedited, charge to ID travelers exiting the country.
The focus of Biometric Exit is to understand and track visa holders that leave the country, comparing that data to those that entered. It’s the only way to get an accurate handle on how many, and who specifically, overstay their approved time in the country.
The order to solve this problem via biometrics has been in place for decades, but it has taken on new urgency under President Trump’s border security efforts. Though his executive immigration order have been stayed by Federal judges, the push to rapidly implement Biometric Exit seems to be taking hold within CBP.
We have photos of US Citizens, we have visa photos, we have photos of people when they cross into the US
A pilot using facial recognition is currently underway on a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo. According to a report in the Verge, the Trump administration wants it to expand this summer and eventually reach every international flight and border crossing from the US.
US Customs and Border Protection’s Larry Panetta, speaking at the Border Security Expo, said facial recognition is the agencies path forward emphasizing that photos already exist so enrollment is essentially complete. “We have access to the Department of State records so we have photos of US Citizens, we have visa photos, we have photos of people when they cross into the US,” he said.
According to the Verve report, “CBP was still weighing four different methods for Biometric Exit, including fingerprint and iris-based systems (but) facial recognition has become the clear favorite. Unlike iris prints, CBP already has visa holders’ faces on file — and unlike fingerprints, faces are easy to check at the gate.”
Panetta told attendees that CBP was building an IT backbone that others, such as TSA or airlines, could tie into for facial matching at various points during the travel process. Still questions on delivery, efficacy, privacy and more abound.
But for an agency racing to meet the President’s mandated 100-day updates, all but the actual delivery may be forced to take a back seat.