Some US Airlines Are Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition Scans On Americans Flying Abroad

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Just when you thought air travel couldn’t get any more invasive, authoritarian and downright miserable, the Department of Homeland Security and two U.S. carriers are determined to prove you wrong.

Yesterday, Harrison Rudolph, a law fellow at the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, wrote a very troubling article at Slate titled, DHS Is Starting to Scan Americans’ Faces Before They Get on International Flights. Here’s some of what we learned:

Decades ago, Congress mandated that federal authorities keep track of foreign nationals as they enter and leave the United States. If the government could record when every visitor stepped on and off of U.S. soil, so the thinking went, it could easily see whether a foreign national had overstayed a visa.


But in June of last year, without congressional authorization, and without consulting the public, the Department of Homeland Security started scanning the faces of Americans leaving the country, too.


You may have heard about new JetBlue or Delta programs that let passengers board their flights by submitting to a face recognition scan. Few realize, however, that these systems are actually the first phase of DHS’s “Biometric Exit” program.


For certain international flights from Atlanta and New York, DHS has partnered with Delta to bring mandatory face recognition scans to the boarding gate. The Delta system checks a passenger is supposed to be on the plane by comparing her face, captured by a kiosk at the boarding gate, to passenger manifest photos from State Department databases. It also checks passengers’ citizenship or immigration status. Meanwhile, in Boston, DHS has partnered with JetBlue to roll out a voluntary face recognition system for travelers flying to Aruba. In JetBlue’s case, you can actually get your face scanned instead of using a physical ticket.


While these systems differ in details, they have two things in common. First, they are laying the groundwork for a much broader, mandatory deployment of Biometric Exit across the country. Second, they scan the faces of everyone—including American citizens.


Treating U.S. citizens like foreign nationals contradicts years of congressional mandates. DHS has never consulted the American public about whether Americans should be subject to face recognition. That’s because Congress has never given Homeland Security permission to do it in the first place. Congress has passed Biometric Exit bills at least nine times. In each, it has been clear: This is a program meant for foreign nationals. In fact, when President Trump issued an executive order in January on Biometric Exit, it was actually reissued to clarify that it didn’t apply to American citizens.


Behind the scenes, DHS is already handling your face recognition photo in ways many travelers might find alarming. For instance, after JetBlue scans your face, your photo is temporarily stored in DHS’s threat modeling ecosystem. What is it doing there? While there is no indication right now that DHS is, for example, comparing your face against a hotlist of known or suspected terrorists, it’s easy to imagine DHS pulling the trigger. People with foreign-sounding names have already struggled for years with false matches on the No Fly List. Will people with “foreign-looking” faces encounter the same discrimination?


And this may only be the beginning. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s John Wagner, Homeland Security is in internal negotiations to bring face recognition to the TSA security checkpoint.


What might mission creep look like? One possible scenario involves DHS deciding to search your face against state and local law enforcement databases. Would you be comfortable with your face being compared to the faces of wanted criminals simply because you flew home to see your parents? Or maybe DHS could decide to share your face with the FBI. That could mean your face being compared with unknown suspects in security camera footage. Imagine being investigated for a crime you didn’t commit because, while passing through the airport, an algorithm matched your face to a suspect in a grainy surveillance video.

This is absolutely absurd.

Meanwhile, here’s Delta’s announcement of the facial-recognition test. They write it as if customers will be excited about this Orwellian surveillance.

Delta customers departing Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport and New York-JFK for international destinations this summer will be part of a test that captures customers’ biometrics upon exit of the United States at the same time they self-scan their boarding pass. Delta is the first airline Customs and Border Protection has partnered with to test new biometric exit immigration procedure and technology designed to give CBP an enhanced ability to record when visitors depart the U.S.


Delta’s tests, powered by biometric identification and management providers Vision-Box at JFK (pictured) and NEC Corporation of America at ATL, confirms passenger identity using advanced facial recognition technology and Delta ticketing information in a single, automated, reliable and highly secure solution. Upon successful screening at JFK, the eGate will open for individual customers to pass into the boarding area. In Atlanta, a different, self-contained unit will capture and verify customer’s identity before the customer continues on to boarding. All customer data is securely managed by CBP.


“Delta is always willing to partner with the CBP as it continues testing new technologies to improve its processes,” said Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer. “Its spirit of innovation aligns with Delta’s as we continue pioneering our own biometric customer experience solutions to enhance the airport travel experience for customers while giving employees the ability to focus on higher-touch customer needs.”


Delta’s JFK test launched June 12 at gate B24, while customers will start experiencing the one-step process in ATL at gates E10 and E12 later this summer. The Atlanta pilot will build on a year-long collaboration between Delta, NEC and CBP that has been testing facial recognition and boarding technology for exit screening on ATL gates F6 and F9.


“CBP has been working with our stakeholders to build a simplified, but secure travel process that not only meets the biometric exit mandate, but also aligns with CBP’s and the travel industry’s modernization efforts,” said John Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, CBP. “We are happy to be working with partners, like Delta, to expand the use of facial biometric technology to create an innovative, more efficient travel experience for passengers.”


Technology providers Vision-Box and NEC added:


“Vision-Box is excited to partner with Delta to provide an innovative self-boarding e-Gate system that combines airline boarding and biometric exit capture capabilities in a single process,” said Miguel Leitmann, Vision-Box CEO. “Passenger experience, high biometric accuracy and personal data protection are among the key metrics the pilot is addressing in order to establish a foundation to scale up to other airports.”


NEC Corporate of America Senior Vice President Raffie Beroukhim said, “Utilization of biometrics is perhaps the only means of balancing increased safety and security with passenger convenience. As a leading provider of such technologies, NEC is proud of the partnership with Delta and CBP in Atlanta, the progress made to date, and further potential in improving both safety and passenger convenience.”

If you fly Delta, you may want to make your opinions on this issue crystal clear.


Déjà view Bes Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:33 Permalink

Depends on Tel Aviv...AIPAC...Mossad...

In Israel, gates, fences, and walls encircle public spaces while guards scrutinize, inspect, and interrogate. With a population constantly aware of the possibility of suicide bombings, Israel is defined by its culture of security. Security and Suspicion is a closely drawn ethnographic study of the way Israeli Jews experience security in their everyday lives.
Observing security concerns through an anthropological lens, Juliana Ochs investigates the relationship between perceptions of danger and the political strategies of the state. Ochs argues that everyday security practices create exceptional states of civilian alertness that perpetuate—rather than mitigate—national fear and ongoing violence. In Israeli cities, customers entering gated urban cafés open their handbags for armed security guards and parents circumnavigate feared neighborhoods to deliver their children safely to school. Suspicious objects appear to be everywhere, as Israelis internalize the state's vigilance for signs of potential suicide bombers. Fear and suspicion not only permeate political rhetoric, writes Ochs, but also condition how people see, the way they move, and the way they relate to Palestinians. Ochs reveals that in Israel everyday practices of security—in the home, on commutes to work, or in cafés and restaurants—are as much a part of conflict as soldiers and military checkpoints.

In reply to by Bes

losses mount NoDebt Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:38 Permalink

They haven't even warned up yet; very soon at the nearest truth booth you'll be asked:Did you pay all your taxes in the last reporting year?Do you mean yourself or anyone else harm?Do you love your illustrious leader?The future is hell and it's nearly here.Furthermore, no one will be going anywhere or working for anyone without their certificate of truthfulness and loyalty to the illustrious leader. Issued daily upon waking.Welcome to the nightmare.Chosen ones exempted.

In reply to by NoDebt

Ghordius NoDebt Fri, 06/23/2017 - 09:44 Permalink

"this is a measure meant for foreign nationals"ok, so if a let's say oil drilling expert from Texas boards a plane, flies to Sweden for a convention on drilling technology, get's in love with a Swede, comes back with her because he wants to marry her in his parent's home...she has to be scanned (foreign national) while he has not to be scanned. right. I'm sure there is a deeper sense behing this "foreign nationals only". I'm sure I'll get to it, eventually. where is my thinking cap, again?

In reply to by NoDebt

mkkby FrozenGoodz (not verified) Sat, 06/24/2017 - 00:07 Permalink

All this security shit is to protect the deep state from ordinary americans.  It can't be used on muslims, 'cause racism.  Just like wheel chair bound granny is strip searched, but aloha snackbar passes thru.It won't stop until the dollar crashes and free fed fiat stops.  Then the people will be able to take back their country.

In reply to by FrozenGoodz (not verified)

HenryKissinger… (not verified) brushhog Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:03 Permalink

The next time I get on a plane will be the last time I set foot in this won't, now the FAGNET knows...and after it IDs your face, you will be send straigh to the FEMA re-education concentration camp,only METERS before you reach the plane...

In reply to by brushhog

wmbz Fri, 06/23/2017 - 09:22 Permalink

I can hear the sheeple now... Well, if you didn't anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.They will line right up.

brushhog wmbz Fri, 06/23/2017 - 09:35 Permalink

Thats an insult to sheep. I keep a flock of sheep and I can tell you that they resist quite energetically. The rams fight me on everything and can knock me on my ass if im not careful. Not like people at all. People would have to grow twice the back-bone to get to the level of a sheep.

In reply to by wmbz

Moe Howard Fri, 06/23/2017 - 09:50 Permalink

I flew in to Chicago from Europe this spring.Immigration was a giant cluster fuck.I had to scan in my passport and a mandatory photo was taken. It was printed out and I had to surrender the photo/data paper to "enter" the USA. Freedom is long gone.

Lost in translation Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:14 Permalink

Writing you from Korea.

Every time I pass through security when departing LAX - every single time - my carry-on is held for search. EVERY time.

No one else in my family is ever subjected to this, just yours truly.

The wife asked me recently, "why are they consistently singling you out?"

I have no answer. I assume I'm on a bureaucratic "watch list" of some kind... no idea...

NoWayJose Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:22 Permalink

Just carry a towel with you. Wrap it around your face so that only your eyes show - and walk right through! If anyone hassles you just tell them your religion prohibits showing your face in public!

Hey - it's worked before!

Porous Horace Fri, 06/23/2017 - 10:40 Permalink

I have nothing but contempt for anybody who would allow themselves to be searched by the government without probable cause or a warrant. If everybody refused, the TSA would be abolished in a day. The TSA can gang-rape them for all I care.