U.S. citizens taking international flights may have to submit to a face scan, a plan privacy advocates say is “a step towards a surveillance state”
The Trump administration heartily backs the plan proposed by the Department of Homeland Security, which will require citizens traveling on international flights to submit to a facial scan.
The Department of Homeland Security claimed the facial scans would expand on the program tracking nonimmigrant foreigners. Since 2004, citizens have been required to submit to biometric identity scans – but have only had photos and fingerprints collected prior to entry.
The D.H.S has revealed it is ready to implement facial scans on departure, to track visa over-stays and tighten security.
Trials of the new technology which began under the Obama administration is being used at six major U.S. airports: Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, New-York, and Dulles in Washington D.C.
So far, as the program is still in trial, passengers are allowed to decline having their face scanned.
D.H.S. stated: “The only way for an individual to ensure he or she is not subject to collection of biometric information when traveling internationally is to refrain from traveling,”
Face scans under attack by privacy advocates
Privacy advocates have criticized the use of face scans, although the D.H.S has stated it will not keep the scans of U.S. citizens on record.
Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology, stated “Congress authorized scans of foreign nationals. D.H.S. heard that and decided to scan everyone. That’s not how a democracy is supposed to work.”
Other privacy advocates stated that the U.S. is being pushed towards a “Big Brother” future of constant surveillance and could lead to digital faceprints to track citizens wherever they go.
Senator Edward Markey stated: “I intend to closely monitor this facial recognition program to ensure that Americans can say ‘no’ to being subject to facial recognition and that DHS and airlines are fully transparent with the public about their future plans.”