Dulles Customs Agents Deploy Facial Recognition To Catch Imposters, Privacy Experts Cry Foul

In case you were of the mind that airport travel wasn't a big enough pain as is, there's some good news to relay. If you'll be passing through Washington, DC's Dulles airport soon, you can plan on adding a new step to the routine.

As part of a “test”, those coming back to the U.S. through Dulles may be chosen to have their picture taken by a customs agent, which will then be stored and used for later verification. What's interesting here is the "may." Why this isn't a full-blown rollout, I'm not sure, but I suppose it's a good thing.

This move is of course unfortunate, and is sure to do almost nothing security-wise, or thwart those trying to use someone else's passport to travel. I base this on account of the fact that you'll still be required to chat up a customs agent; one that's able to look at your passport, and then at you. The picture could be used in conjunction with a PC that would give further confidence as to whether there's a match or not.

Airport picture

To me, this is like going to a car dealer to scout different models, and then asking the dealer for pictures of a particular model you're standing right in front of. Ultimately, what results in this our privacy being crippled just a wee bit further.

While this technology might strike you as a little alarming, it's not entirely new. Toronto's Pearson airport has implemented the exact same process for the past year-and-a-half. In fact, the entire process of crossing from Canada into the U.S. has become much more of a chore; it used to be that we could walk straight through to the customs agent if we had no bags to pick up, but now we are required to reconfirm travel options at one terminal, then scan our passports and take our photo at another. At that point, we can then move towards a customs agent.

Isn't travel so much fun?

Tags:  security, Privacy, travel