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Airports are taking giant leaps and bounds when it comes to border controls; only recently Australia announced a Biometric trial and in Amsterdam, they're testing facial recognition for boarding. Now the US government is developing a facial recognition system to implement exit controls from the US. Currently, the US does not impose immigration controls when you are exiting the country; which is an anomaly since most countries in the world have both entry and exit immigration controls.
Since most US international airports were designed with this system in mind, it would take some extensive renovations to implement a traditional style immigration control system. One workaround that the Department of Homeland Security is going to implement is via facial recognition software. Per the Verge website, the new system is “called Biometric Exit; the project would use facial matching systems to identify every visa holder as they leave the country. Passengers would have their photos taken immediately before boarding, to be matched with the passport-style photos provided with the visa application. If there’s no match in the system, it could be evidence that the visitor entered the country illegally.”
The system should be relatively simple to implement, according to Larry Panetta of the US Customs and Border Protection agency, who oversees the airport section of the project. “We currently have everyone’s photo, so we don’t need to do any sort of enrollment. 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, and their biometrics are captured into [DHS biometric database] IDENT.”
Once the database and system is up and running, the plan is to use the data in a much wider scope than just immigration controls, as the agency wants to involve more stakeholders in the project, Mr. Panetta added: “So once we completely build our exit infrastructure, we could potentially offer it to TSA if they want to use our facial matching or security screening test — or maybe if an airline wanted to use facial matching for access to their lounge. So we’re trying to be collaborative with our various stakeholders and our sister agencies such as TSA, and we’ll make that available to them when we have it.”
This means that in the future many procedures that you have to go through at an airport could be speeded up. You could use facial recognition to enter lounges, boarding and any other point requiring you to show ID and a boarding pass.
Any move that enhances airport security is to be commended, but sadly often new procedures involve more delays which passengers find annoying. With more and more people flying and governments and airlines investing in new technology like facial recognition and biometrics, hopefully, security can be improved while being sped up at the same time.
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