Facial recognition touted as 'user friendly' system for airports

September 8, 2018 by Rob Lever
Facial recognition systems are being used to speed the boarding process at Dulles International Airport and may eventually eliminate the need for a board pass

As facial recognition technology use generates intense scrutiny, a new system unveiled at Washington's Dulles airport is being touted as a "user friendly" way to help ease congestion for air travelers.

Officials at Dulles unveiled two new face recognition systems Thursday, one to meet legal requirements for biometric entry-exit records, and a second to help speed processing of travelers arriving on international flights by matching their real-time images with stored photos.

The growing use of facial recognition has ignited debate over surveillance and privacy around the world, but officials told media this was a way to help reducing annoying lines and wait times without compromising security.

"The technology works," US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told reporters at an airport unveiling.

"It's fast, it's user-friendly, it's flexible and it's cost-effective. And we believe it will change the face of international travel."

Over time, officials say the biometric recognition system will allow a traveler's face to eliminate the need for a .

"No more fumbling with your boarding pass when you have two carry-ons, maybe a kid, no more trying to find a QR code or trying the refresh your screen," McAleenan said.

In one test for the system, McAleenan said the boarding 350 passengers for an Airbus A380 aircraft was completed in 20 minutes, or half the normal time.

At Dulles, officials showed how the new systems, operated with iPads mounted on poles, identified and matched the image of travelers during the boarding process.

Aiming for speed, security

The system is designed to boost security by ensuring that travelers are using their real passports and not forged documents, matching to existing photos from passports or images collected from foreign nationals when they enter.

The Dulles system began operations in mid-August, ahead of the media event, and within three days was credited with the arrest of a man attempting to use a fake passport to enter the United States.

A woman boarding an SAS flight to Copenhagen goes through a facial recognition verification system at Dulles International Airport

The 26-year-old man traveling from Sao Paulo, Brazil sought to enter with a French passport but the facial comparison biometric system determined he was not a match to the passport he presented.

A search revealed the man's authentic Republic of Congo identification card concealed in his shoe.

Officials claim the new systems are being developed only for the boarding and entry process and not being tied to other databases for surveillance.

"We are not collecting or retaining any new data," McAleenan said.

"We need to confirm that the party travelers are who they say they are."

Dulles is one of 14 "early adopter airports" using for the entry process.

McAleenan said that because the new system uses only its own images and passport photos, its accuracy rate is "99 percent."

"We are not seeing significant difference across gender or race," he added.

The CPB system was developed within the agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, with unspecified technology partners, according to McAleenan.

Privacy activists say there are few safeguards on facial recognition databases used and that the technology evokes fears of a "Big Brother" surveillance state, pointing to China, where law enforcement has been aggressively deploying these systems.

The American Civil Liberties Union has on numerous occasions opposed airport deployment of , claiming problems with effectiveness and accuracy, among other things.

ACLU policy analyst Jay Stanley warns that the deployment "normalizes face as a checkpoint " and could eventually lead to "mission creep."

"We've seen these technologies spread from airports and now they are used in all kinds of venues, including in some high schools," Stanley told AFP.

Explore further: Face recognition nabs fake passport user at US airport

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mariasusan
1 / 5 (4) Sep 08, 2018
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koitsu
not rated yet Sep 08, 2018
"In one test for the system, McAleenan said the boarding 350 passengers for an Airbus A380 aircraft was completed in 20 minutes, or half the normal time."

What a load of crap. I'd love to see the actual comparison and how it was conducted. As anyone who has air traveled before knows, the bottleneck in a boarding process is not the boarding pass scanning phase but the time it takes for passengers to get settled once on the plane. (Consider how more often than not, one spends another few minutes waiting on the boarding bridge once the boarding pass is scanned.)
koitsu
5 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2018
"Officials claim the new systems are being developed only for the boarding and entry process and not being tied to other databases for law enforcement surveillance."

Oh really? But just earlier we see [emphasis mine]:

"Officials at Dulles unveiled two new face recognition systems Thursday, ***one to meet legal requirements for biometric entry-exit records,*** and a second to help speed processing of travelers arriving on international flights by matching their real-time images with stored photos."

So now what were those legal requirements? Oh, one other thing--exactly which database(s) will the scanned image be validated against, hmm?
Ook
5 / 5 (3) Sep 09, 2018
99% accuracy rate. Atlanta alone has over 100 million passengers a year. That works out to over 3,000 people (about 10 full flights) every day being subject to system inaccuracies, just at one airport.
DirtySquirties
5 / 5 (2) Sep 09, 2018
99% accuracy rate. Atlanta alone has over 100 million passengers a year. That works out to over 3,000 people (about 10 full flights) every day being subject to system inaccuracies, just at one airport.


Doesn't matter. The fools they need to convince will gobble that right up. 99% sounds really good to the average person and that's all the officials and politicians need to keep pushing this BS through.
gkam
1 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2018
Oh, yeah, . .I am to trust the Trump government with my image,. . . right?
Parsec
5 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2018
99% accuracy rate. Atlanta alone has over 100 million passengers a year. That works out to over 3,000 people (about 10 full flights) every day being subject to system inaccuracies, just at one airport.


The statistics are not on your side of the argument. Most of the 1% will be false negatives... that is the system will not recognize you when it should. That is easily resolved with a few minutes of manual verification. Most false positives will be overwhelmed by the very low percentage of people actually trying to fool the system.

That is, assume all 3000 people are false positives. How many of those are trying to enter illegally? Particularly when criminals come to understand how frequently the system will work and catch them.

Furthermore, the system as it stands today has so many holes in it that its crazy. How many people using false passports today have any chance of being caught? Clever crooks can probably count on a 1% catch rate, rather than 99%.
Parsec
5 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2018
Oh, yeah, . .I am to trust the Trump government with my image,. . . right?


Everyone getting a drivers license or a passport already "trusts" the government with their image.

Get a grip dude.
gkam
1 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2018
You do not get it, dudette.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2018
You do not get it, dudette.
1- see: NHTSA National Driver Register and PDPS

your photo is logged and compared to your passport photo (if you have one) and Military ID photo (if you have one)

All local municipalities, state and federal LEO's and government agencies have access to your records and photo post 9/11

lastly, the camera photo taken by all state agencies and for federal passports has been proven to be sufficient to build a retinal profile of you just from your ID

it is even better and easier if you've taken any HD photo's and you've sent them using any digital mail service at places like Google, Photobucket and other photo-share sites have algorithms that flag certain types of material (paedophilia, etc)

2- National Motor Vehicle License Lookup Service web site offers a free searchable database of over 210 million U.S. driver's license photos

I found yours free

http://www.licens...h_e.php?

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