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Homeland Security Wants to Use Facial Recognition at U.S. Border

The Department of Homeland Security is seeking proposals for a facial recognition solution that can track the movement of foreign nationals.

SILICON VALLEY, Calif. —The United State Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to employ facial recognition technology that can passively scan the faces of travelers as they drive over the US border.

Nextgov spotted a public notice soliciting solutions that would “let Customs and Border Protection scan people’s faces, even if they’re wearing sunglasses, hats or are looking away from the camera, without requiring them to slow down or exit the car.”

The agency is holding an “Industry Day”  on Nov. 14 to provide more information for companies that wish to submit a proposal.

Here’s the description of the program DHS provides:

Proposed solutions must capture face recognition quality photographs of a vehicle’s occupants without the travelers having to leave the vehicle and traveling at speed. The photo will be used to validate the identities of the occupants and document their entry or exit from the United States. The capability must be able to package and transmit the captured information in order to compare against DHS holdings to validate occupants’ identities and document entry/exit. In addition, the capability must be able to account for environmental (e.g., lighting, windshield tint, vehicle speed, and infrastructure), traffic (e.g., less trafficked ports may experience faster travelling vehicles which could increase the probability of motion blur), and occupant behavioral factors (e.g., sun glasses, hats, driver looking away or obstructing face view). CBP is interested in both standalone and multi-configuration integrated system approaches. All proposals should detail the requisite camera parameters and infrastructure requirements, and characterize the impact of technical and operational challenges (e.g., windshield contrast and transmission, occlusions, facial pose, and motion blur) on their proposed solution.

This is sure to raise privacy concerns among citizens, as facial recognition technology frequently does.

DHS says the ideal proposal would anonymize data when it scans the face of a citizen exiting the country, since the biometric exit-tracking is intended to only track the movement of foreign nationals.

Hopefully if the facial recognition technology is eventually implemented, it goes smoother than Homeland Security’s “alien” hotline.

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