The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a press release earlier this week stating that a 26-year-old man travelling from Brazil with a French passport was flagged by the airport’s facial recognition tech, which was put in place just three days ago. Upon a secondary check, he was found to be from the Republic of Congo and impersonating the man whose picture was in his passport.
This is being considered a big win for the CBP, given that about 104,525 people arrive from overseas into the US every single day (excluding those entering from Mexico and Canada) according to the International Trade Administration that Quartz referenced back in February of 2017. Tasked with preventing illegal entry into the United States, the CBP needs all the help it can get in verifying the identities of such a large number of travellers on an everyday basis.
For the biometric technology to function, the CBP first builds a photo profile of all of the travellers using flight manifests and traveller’s documents (such as passports and visas). When they land on American soil, TSA officers guide travellers to a camera next to a podium, which captures a picture and compares it to their travel documents to determine if they are indeed who they’re claiming to be.
Hopefully, this will not only aid in identifying terrorists and criminals before they can enter the United States, but also speed up throughput at airport checks, and eventually allow travellers to get through security without even needing a boarding pass. The new technology is currently being tested at 13 other airports across the country at entry and exit points, and it is highly probable the number will quickly grow as the agency sees greater success in the implementation of the system.