DHS Quietly Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition of Passengers *Exiting* U.S.

facescanWe’re all used to having to identify ourselves as we enter a country.  It is the only way we can hope to have any attempt at a secure border.  But, so-called “exit controls,” where documents are checked as travelers are leaving the country, were popularized last century by Nazi Germany as a great way to ensure that they could control, round up, and exterminate the Jews and other “undesirables.”  It can obviously serve no purpose of keeping terrorists out, because it only affects those who are already in.  The U.S. has never had exit controls, although they remain popular in Europe, Russia, and China.

Last week, privacy advocate and blogger Jeffrey Tucker posted his experience before a flight from Atlanta to Mexico:

Halfway down the jetbridge, there was a new layer of security. Two US Marshals, heavily armed and dressed in dystopian-style black regalia, stood next to an upright machine with a glowing green eye. Every passenger, one by one, was told to step on a mat and look into the green scanner. It was scanning our eyes and matching that scan with the passport, which was also scanned (yet again).

Welcome Aboard, But First U.S. Marshals Will Scan Your Retina,” published 2/25/2017.

A bit of research uncovered that CBP announced a 2-month pilot program last year for flights between Atlanta and Japan in which they would be doing facial scans as passengers were about to board their flights:.

As part of the testing, travelers will present their boarding pass while their digital photo is taken. The process will take less than three seconds before travelers proceed to the passenger loading bridge to board their flight. Travelers over the age of 14 and under 79 will be required to participate in the test. The test will evaluate CBP’s ability to successfully compare the image of a traveler taken during departure against an image the traveler previously provided, in an automated fashion and without impacting airport operations.

This was, apparently, announced sufficiently quietly that I had not before heard of the program.  The 2 month window has expired, and there is no mention on their Web site, that I can find, of a new program between Atlanta and Mexico.  But, it seems to me that the likely scenario is that CBP has re-started this program and Mr. Tucker confused U.S. Marshals with CBP officers, and retinal scanning with face recognition scanners (not that it makes a difference in terms of our privacy).

What exactly is the point of this?  Are we hoping to catch someone who has overstayed their visa so that we can stop them from leaving, then take them into custody so that the taxpayer can fund their leaving?  It may simply be a dumb idea, or it may be a far more sinister plan to further control the movements of everyone in the country, citizen or otherwise.

Either way, count me out, and I encourage you to refuse as well.

31 thoughts on “DHS Quietly Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition of Passengers *Exiting* U.S.

Add yours

  1. One of the main scenarios counterterror folk claim to be worried about is an American citizen who becomes “radicalized” while traveling. Most likely they’re trying to take a scan of travelers that could be used to recognize them if they appear in photographs or video footage relevant to certain factions, locations and events.

  2. Entire face recognition policies are taken from the text books of Mossad who has each and every Palestinian in their data bank. Of course, there are no rights for the Palestinians in Israel so that is no considered illegal. However, in the USA, the same Zio cabal has been busy implementing the same tested technologies from Israeli apartheid state on Americans!

  3. I can confirm this is true, it happened to me last year at the end of June on a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo-Narita. It was shocking to me, although as usual it seems like most people weren’t *visibly* upset by it. It was indeed pretty fast and efficient, but it didn’t *feel* right. It felt very ominous. They had a videocamera on a tripod filming everyone, and several officers standing around observing. For us it happened shortly after the gate, it wasn’t halfway down the jetbridge – it was towards the beginning of it. As I have one lazy eye that shifts slightly (beyond my control), I was actually worried that the machine wouldn’t match me, but it did, and quickly

  4. Them
    “Travelers over the age of 14 and under 79 will be required to participate in the test.”

    “Either way, count me out, and I encourage you to refuse as well.”

    logic, if confident, would indicate that one of these statements is expected to be in error, or expected to have been proven to have been in error. i assume it is the first.

    if you don’t mind me asking, upon what evidence, verified information, or real-world tested belief do you base the confidence of your statement?

    1. This is a blog, not a logic course, but I’m not sure I understand where I’ve lost you. DHS has said that participation will be required, and I’m saying that I will not participate, despite their “requirement,” even if it means missing my flight or arrest.

  5. New Bill Would Force NYPD to Disclose Its Surveillance Tech Playbook:

    The bill, named the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) act, would require the NYPD to detail how, when, and with what authority it uses technologies like Stingray devices, which can monitor and interfere with the cellular communications of an entire crowd at once. Specifically, the department would have to publicize the “…rules, processes and guidelines issued by the department regulating access to or use of such surveillance technology as well as any prohibitions or restrictions on use, including whether the department obtains a court authorization for each use of a surveillance technology, and what specific type of court authorization is sought.”

    The NYPD would also have to say how it protects the gathered surveillance data itself (for example, x-ray imagery, or individuals captured in a facial recognition scan), and whether or not this data is shared with other governmental organizations. A period of public comment would follow these disclosures.


  6. Head of the TSA Threatened With Subpoena:

    Members of the House put the acting administrator of the Transportation Security Administration on notice Thursday to turn over information on whistleblower retaliation or face subpoena.

    For two hours this morning, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform grilled TSA acting administrator Huban Gowadia over the agency’s ongoing investigations into abuses of power, mismanagement, employee intimidation and security failures.

    Though the Office of Special Counsel has sought hundreds of pages of documentation regarding the investigations, Gowadia said that “unwritten” guidance from the Department of Homeland Security barred her agency from sharing the documents with the Congress.

    Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz took a hard stance with Gowadia, bristling at her repeated claims that the unwritten guidance permitted her to withhold the documents under attorney-client privilege.

    “You know what?” the Republican from Utah said. “You have a week from Friday, OK? A week from Friday or I issue a subpoena. And guess what? I don’t need a committee vote. I don’t need to ask a judge. I can do it all myself and I’m telling you here on national television, you will get a subpoena for that information.”


  7. TSA’s Secrecy Is ‘Absurd’ According to Agency’s Own Watchdog:

    The most egregious thing about the secrecy and unnecessary redactions wasn’t that it has been going on for so long, but that the agency has repeatedly stonewalled their own watchdog organization to address the issue.

    John Roth, the DHS Inspector General testified that it took six months to simply get a response from TSA about their absurd secrecy, and even then the agency still kept putting up roadblocks to reform. Most damning was the OIG’s assertion that none of the redactions made anyone safer.

    “TSA’s refusal to remove unsupportable SSI designations—including designations pertaining to previously published information—raises serious questions about its stewardship of the SSI program,” Roth testified.

    “None of these redactions will make us safer, and they serve to highlight the inconsistent and often arbitrary nature of TSA’s SSI designations.”


  8. U.S. Airport Pat-Downs Are About to Get More Invasive:

    The new physical touching—for those selected to have a pat-down—will be be what the federal agency officially describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman.

    “I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson said Friday.

    The random searches also vary by airport, depending on the screening program, Anderson said. “Sometimes it’s random, sometimes they’re consistent, based on the door you enter,” he said…

    1. Stratte-McClure said he was patted down because he never takes off a gold bracelet on his right wrist, and the TSA agent told him “we’ve got to do more extensive vertical and horizontal pat downs” because “bad people conceal weapons in their pants.” In a tweet about the incident, he called it “groin scrutiny.”

  9. Is this on all flights Atlanta to Mexico?

    If yes, would you consider taking donations towards people who want to fund a vacation for you from Mexico, routing through Atlanta?

      1. Hi Jonathan, While I may not be able to pay for an entire trip, it has been a few years since my last donation, and I would be interested in funding at least a good part of a plane ticket to Mexico.

        That is, assuming that if they do have the facial recognition scanning that you refuse to do it and file suit (or be forced to do it, and file suit due to that, whichever you feel is more beneficial).

        That probably goes without saying, but just wanted to be sure we’re on the same page.

        Can you provide details on what makes you think “I bet I can predict with some accuracy which one(s) it might be”? (Certain airline(s)? Certain routes–e.g. destination cities? Certain times?)

        If you want to look into it (trying to figure out that criteria they’re using, and costs for a flight) and let me know, I’m willing to give it a shot if you are.


        On Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 11:39 AM, Professional Troublemaker wrote:

        > Jonathan Corbett commented: “I don’t think it’s for all flights, but I bet > I can predict with some accuracy which one(s) it might be, if you’d like to > send me to Mexico. ;)” >

        1. Hi X,

          DHS tends to be pretty predictable, and I do think with some research I could determine with >50% accuracy if I’d be selected. But, even if I find the right flight, there’s no guarantee they will force me to do anything… perhaps they’ll just let me go. We’d have some value in documenting the process, but no lawsuit.

          There are probably more effective ways I could use donation money. 🙂 But if you guys insist, happy to be flown to Mexico!


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