DHS may require photographing all US citizens at airports: report

DHS considering photographing passengers at airports
Federal officials are considering requiring that all travelers, including American citizens, be photographed as they enter or leave the country as part of an identification system using facial-recognition technology, according to an Associated Press report. (Associated Press)

Federal officials are considering requiring that all travelers, including American citizens, be photographed as they enter or leave the country as part of an identification system using facial-recognition technology, according to an Associated Press report.

The Department of Homeland Security reportedly said it expects to publish a proposed rule next July. The proposed legislation already has critics.

Sen. Edward Markey, Mass., reportedly said Tuesday he will introduce legislation to block the plan and prohibit U.S. citizens from being forced to provide facial-recognition information. Markey said a recent data breach at Customs and Border Protection shows that Homeland Security can’t be trusted with the information.

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Facial recognition is reportedly being tested by several airlines at a number of U.S. airports. While American citizens are allowed to opt out of being photographed, a 2017 audit by a federal watchdog agency found that few U.S. travelers exercised that right, the Associated Press report said.

According to the report, Homeland Security announced the possibility of expanding biometrics to U.S. citizens in a recent, brief filing. A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of Homeland Security, reportedly said there would be a chance for the public to comment on any change in regulations.

The article quoted DHS as saying in a November 2018 report that facial recognition is the best biometric approach at borders because it can be done quickly and “with a high degree of accuracy.” The agency said privacy risks “are mostly mitigated.” Photos used to match Americans to their identities are deleted within 12 hours, according to the report.

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