US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is preparing to make facial recognition scanning mandatory for everyone catching an international flight.
One of the biggest challenges CBP faces right now is figuring out the most effective way to keep track of everyone who leaves the country. Currently, authorities rely on flight manifests from departing airlines. But CBP hopes they can streamline the identification process by implementing facial recognition scanning for all departing passengers.
Currently, CBP has tested out their new facial recognition program at 15 US airports and has used the software to scan passengers boarding over 15,000 flights. Within the next four years, officials say 97 percent of commercial air travel passengers will have their faces scanned before boarding. Now tell us that doesn't sound like something lifted from a sci-fi movie script.
But why does CBP care so much about who's leaving the country anyway? The biggest reason appears to be identifying visitors who have overstayed their welcome. It's estimated that 666,582 people who arrived in the US by plane or boat stayed in the country longer than their visas allowed in the fiscal year of 2018. Overstaying your visa is an offense that can be punished with a ban from re-entering the US for up to 10 years.
The hope is that CBP's new facial recognition software will be able to instantly identify travellers who have overstayed their visa and alert authorities. That'll certainly make border agents' jobs easier, but some people are concerned the program constitutes an invasion of privacy. To ease those concerns, CBP says all the images will be encrypted and will be destroyed after a period of time.
Assuming things go well for facial recognition at airports, you could start seeing face scanners pop up at US-Mexico border as well.
Looks like this is the future of international travel, folks.