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The Government Now Wants Biometric Recognition for US Citizens

The Government Now Wants Biometric Recognition for US Citizens
Taylor Rains

In the past few years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency responsible for protecting the border and controlling immigration, has been buckling down on foreign visitors overstaying their visas by implementing facial recognition checks when entering and exiting the United States. The current regulation allows U.S. citizens and those with green cards to opt-out of the checks, but a new filing may remove that exemption. The filing states:

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is required by statute to develop and implement a biometric entry-exit data system. To facilitate the implementation of a seamless biometric entry-exit system that uses facial recognition and to help prevent persons attempting to fraudulently use U.S. travel documents and identify criminals and known or suspected terrorists, DHS is proposing to amend the regulations to provide that all travelers, including U.S. citizens, may be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure.”

The amendment is already receiving backlash from civil liberty groups, citing the new rule as an infringement on the right to travel. A senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, Jay Stanley, said in a statement, “Time and again, the government told the public and members of Congress that U.S. citizens would not be required to submit to this intrusive surveillance technology as a condition of traveling. This new notice suggests that the government is reneging on what was already an insufficient promise. Travelers, including U.S. citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel. The government’s insistence on hurtling forward with a large-scale deployment of this powerful surveillance technology raises profound privacy concerns.”

This is not the first time this idea has been bounced around. In 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to “accelerate a full rollout of airport biometrics for all domestic and international travelers.” The move was reportedly supported by the Obama Administration. However, Stanley does not think the government should be trusted with this technology and is calling on lawmakers to intervene.

The rule is in the “final stages of clearance.” Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson said the agency is “committed to its privacy obligations” and “will ensure that the public has the opportunity to comment prior to the implementation of any regulation.”

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2 Comments

  1. FlyingNone

    December 4, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    What good does photographing (on entry) do ? ……. If they disappear into thin air (like millions of others here illegally) whether by illegal border crossing or overstaying visas, how are they going to be found to be prosecuted ?……. and certainly if their intentions are illegal entry, they are not going to show up to exit.

  2. hyho61

    December 10, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Yes I agree with the above comment. The photos and/or fingerprints mean nothing. The only way to track them is for each person to have a contact in US and follow up with the contact and also have a team of agents dedicated to identify significant visa overstayers and deport as required.

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