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Are face scans at the airport coming our way?

by AirTalk®

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A man uses a portable iris recognition scanner during the Biometrics exhibition and conference in London. Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Would you be okay with having your face scanned at the airport every time you took an international flight?

That's the scenario the Department of Homeland Security is pushing for as part of its effort to better track visa overstays and bolster security. Under the plan, anyone taking a flight out of the United States — U.S. citizens included — would have to submit to a face scan upon departure.

DHS says it would be an extension of a 2004 law that has allowed airports to collect fingerprint data and photos from foreign nationals entering the United States, and that subjecting U.S. citizens to the process would ensure that they match the identity on their passports. The department has also kicked off trials of the face scan program at airports in six U.S. cities — Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., Houston, Chicago and Atlanta — where passengers are free to opt out.

Privacy advocates argue it could lead to alarming levels of surveillance, and some have raised questions over the accuracy of facial recognition software.


Matthew Feeney, policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C.; he authored the Cato article, “DHS: Don’t Want Your Face Scanned? Don’t Travel!”; he tweets @M_Feeney

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at Center for Immigration Studies; she tweets @JessicaV_CIS

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