Civil rights groups call on CBP to stop expansion of facial recognition at airports

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Under current rules, non-citizens may be required to provide biometric data only in land ports and up to 15 airports and seaports under pilot programs. DHS aims to remove the limit on the number of entry points where the program can take place and to remove references to “pilot programs” from the rules. US citizens can deactivate biometric analyzes when they enter or leave the country.

“This plan is unwarranted, unnecessary and dangerous,” said Ashley Gorski, senior lawyer for the ACLU, wrote. “Unlike fingerprints and a lot of other biometric data, facial prints can be collected covertly, remotely and without our consent.”

Gorski notes that facial prints can be stored for up to 75 years and that others have access to this database, including federal, state and local law enforcement agencies as well as foreign governments. “CBP says it will apply a face matching algorithm to travelers, comparing their facial prints to a gallery of other government-owned images,” Gorski wrote. This, according to the civil rights groups’ file, “could allow systematic surveillance” by other agencies and governments.

The groups filed their objection on Monday, the day the comment period on the proposal closed. They opposed the Notice of Proposed Settlement (NPRM) on a number of grounds, including the fact that it was released after a federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf’s appointment as secretary by acting DHS was illegal. “In view of the flawed appointments of Mr Wolf, he cannot exercise the authority of the acting secretary and therefore the NPRM has no legal effect,” the groups said in their comment.

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