All US airports may soon have facial recognition software activated to scan each and every passenger regardless of their citizenship. The plan was first proposed for select airports and international passengers only, but the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) department has suggested it be made mandatory for all passengers, even if they are holding US passports.
The initial plan was to register visitors leaving the country using facial recognition. But now it is proposed that facial scans be made mandatory for any passenger when they, leave, re-enter the country or pass through TSA (Transportation Security Administration) checkpoints.
"As soon as you check in for arrivals or departure, we're going to stage your photo in that database. We want to make it available for every transaction in the airport where you have to show an ID today," John Wagner, deputy assistant commissioner at CBP, told the media.
The agency aims to create an airport-wide system dubbing it as the The Biometric Pathway, where along with regular passenger details, facial scans become mandatory. At present, the Exit program is being tested on a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo, and will soon roll out in seven new airports.
The mechanism is limited to the airport departure gates for now and expanding it to all check points will depend on the cooperation from partner agencies like the TSA. There is already a significant interest in using facial recognition especially from airlines like Delta which sees it as an opportunity to improve customer experience.
"We are working closely with stakeholders to ensure successful implementation of biometric exit and exploring potential for inbound arrivals and other processes," an agency representative told the Verge.