Facial recognition technology that can better secure airports represents an “essential” part of the United States’ security and immigration protections, argues a new paper from International Biometrics and Identity Association. The paper from the U.S.-based trade group, “Setting the Record Straight on Face Scans in Biometric Exits,” takes direct aim at a recent report from the Georgetown Law Center of Privacy and Technology that raised criticisms and questions about the fledgling authentication program.
Nine U.S. airports now have the cameras and software to use the Biometric Exit authentication system
Called Biometric Exit, the program uses facial scans to verify the identity of travelers as they leave the country, and aims to prevent imposters from using other people’s identities. Nine U.S. airports now have the cameras and software to use the biometric authentication system, which compares travelers’ faces with a biometric database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.
Among the main criticisms in the Georgetown paper is that the Biometric Exit system would cost some $1 billion even though there exists little “justification, rationale and value for the program.” The program also stands on “shaky legal ground” because Congress has “never clearly authorized the … collection of biometrics from from American citizens using face recognition technology.” The paper also argues that the Biometric Exit facial recognition technology is prone to mistakes.
Biometric Exit benefits
Untrue, argues the International Biometrics and Identity Association. Its 20-page white paper strives to refute the points in that Georgetown paper. Among them:
• Biometric Exit is essential for security and immigration
According to the IBIA, the other paper’s “statement that Congress has not articulated a rationale for a Biometric Exit reflects a disregard of the facts on the ground in the U.S. and around the world. Security vulnerabilities are on the rise globally and the increase in visa overstays is documented.”
• The Biometric Exit pilots comply with Federal law
According to the IBIA white paper, “Congress has adopted and enacted a mandatory Biometric Exit program that is clear U.S. government policy. It requires DHS to move forward with that policy, and further rule making to adopt the policy already adopted by Congress makes no sense, mischaracterizes our constitutional system, and is not supported by the case cited.”
• The Biometric Exit pilots are technically sound and the technologies are used worldwide
The IBIA argues that the “biometric verification of identity is more accurate and reliable than either simple biographic verification or human face verification.” The trade group goes on to say that the other paper cites “average false accept rates of 9.4 percent to 27 percent to establish that face scans are not ready to be deployed.” But the IBIA maintains that using “an average as a metric” is misleading and “irrelevant” to real world use of Biometric Exit. That’s because the testing of the facial recognition technology includes “algorithms that perform very well (with very small error rates), and some that are unacceptably terrible (with very large error rates). Using an average skews the number high.”
The authors of the Georgetown paper offered no immediate comment.