U.S. Citizens May Soon Required to Pass Facial Recognition Checks at All U.S. Airports

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to amend the current regulations and start requiring all travelers, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, to be photographed upon entry and/or departure of any U.S. airport. The current rule states that any travelers passing through airports located in “the land of the free” may be subject to a facial recognition check.

Currently, the rule does not apply for U.S. citizens and green card holders, but in a recent filing, DHS had made it clear that they need this step to help prevent persons attempting to fraudulently use U.S. travel documents. The new rule would also allow them to identify criminals who might be wanting to leave the country, and would also give them intelligence on known or suspected terrorists. DHS intends to start implementing the biometric entry-exit system that uses facial recognition on travelers that include U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents at some point in 2020.

When facial recognition was first requested to be implemented as a security measure on the premises of airports located in the USA, the government made a promise to the Congress and the people that the technology some people find intrusive, would not be required as a condition of traveling. However, the recent filing from DHS means that this may no longer be the case and starting from next year, every person going through an airport would be required to get a facial recognition scan.

Why is DHS pushing for facial recognition for all?

Facial recognition checks will improve the overall security and will prevent people from breaching rules such as overstaying on a visa, or alert authorities if a criminal wants to flee a country, claims DHS. Facial recognition checks implemented on everyone would make airports safer, but it also poses a privacy risk. DHS confirmed that thanks to the technology, it has caught multiple imposters trying to enter the U.S. illegally at airports and have prevented hundreds of people from illegally traveling through the southwest border.

Even though the biometric entry-exit security system has not been widely enforced, it surely has been recommended since the introduction of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. Over the last twenty years, multiple government reports have concluded that the face recognition entry-exit screening system for foreign nationals is an integral part of the U.S. national security. However, the broad adoption of facial recognition may give too much power to the government and remotely reminds the recently announced mandatory facial scan needed for new mobile phone users in China, country run by the Communist party.

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