DHS Continues Facial Recognition Deployment With An Eye On Expanding Program To All Domestic Travelers

from the ALL-YOUR-FACE-ARE-BELONG-TO-US dept

The DHS is moving forward with the deployment of facial recognition tech at ports of entry, including US airports hosting international flights. The tech is still in its infancy, more prone to ringing up bogus hits than removing criminals and terrorists from circulation. But the DHS -- like many other government agencies -- isn't afraid to let a mere toddler do an adult's job. Faces will be scanned, whether travelers like it or not.

The DHS has issued an undated Privacy Impact Assessment [PDF] meant to unruffle the feathers of Americans it informed last year that not traveling internationally was the only way to opt out of this collection. The next phase of the facial rec tech deployment dials things back a bit, offering a bit more in the way of data collection/retention constraints.

In an effort to mitigate the impacts of this expanded collection, CBP seeks to minimize the data it maintains by purging facial images as quickly as possible after use. Each traveler’s biographic and biometric data is deleted from the TSA-issued device, either at the time of the next passenger’s transaction or after two minutes, whichever occurs first. All PII collected for the TVS transaction is stored in a secure database within the CBP network. CBP does not retain images of U.S. Citizens in ATS-UPAX but does retain images of non-U.S. Citizens for up to 14 days for confirmation of the match, as well as evaluation and audit purposes. CBP deletes all photos, regardless of immigration or citizenship status, from the TVS cloud matching service within 12 hours of the match.

[...]

TSA will only use these photos for identity verification at the checkpoint and cannot access the photos after the inspection is completed.

This is one of the better data retention policies the government has rolled out, especially considering it pertains to a border security program. But the DHS is far more vague -- and in some cases appears to be fudging the truth -- when it comes to details about data sharing. DHS claims this data won't be shared with airlines because the airlines have no interest in the data. As Edward Hasbrouck of Papers, Please points out, this statement runs contrary to the DHS's actions.

The joint government/industry interest and intent to develop and deploy a shared system of automated facial image tracking and control of travelers is made clear in white papers on government/industry biometric strategy and in the agendas for events at which CBP, TSA, and industry executives get together to discuss their plans.

Next month’s Future Travel Experience Global 2018 conference, for example, includes presentations by the planning and implementation directors for CBP’s “Biometric Exit” program, followed later the same day by a “working session” with CBP, airline, and airport executives on “Implementing advanced passenger processing with automation and biometrics”.

As for allowing American travelers to opt of the program, the DHS's stance has softened from its earlier "just don't travel" posture. Travelers can bypass face-scanning kiosks, but that just routes them towards CBP secondary inspection. All the CBP/DHS has to do to encourage more opting-in is make the non-scan option as laborious and invasive as possible. As has already been observed by Papers, Please, opting out sends American citizens to the same line as foreign international travelers, ensuring the wait for clearance is much longer than utilizing the facial rec option. Bottlenecks are good way of routing traffic where you want it to go, rather than where it would naturally flow.

The end goal isn't more surveillance of international travelers. The DHS ultimately wants to harvest faces from every domestic traveler in the US. It's not stated in the Impact Assessment, but there are already signs the agency has no interest in limiting this to those arriving from foreign countries.

Use of automated facial recognition is intended by the DHS to become a routine element of the surveillance and control of all air travelers, foreign and domestic. As the head of the CBP, Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, said in a press release in June 2018, “We are at a critical turning point in the implementation of a biometric entry-exit system, and we’ve found a path forward that transforms travel for all travelers.” [emphasis in the original]

The best way to fight this is to opt out. It may subject travelers to longer waits at checkpoints, but it also forces CBP agents to process more people the old fashioned way, without the aid of the DHS's new tech. Annoying the government by refusing to be traffic-shaped by deliberate bottlenecks can be its own small victory, even if the War on Terror machinery continues to rack up loss after loss to terrorists.


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Sep 2018 @ 12:09pm

    Department of Homeland Stasi

    “We are at a critical turning point in the implementation of a biometric entry-exit system, and we’ve found a path forward that transforms travel for all travelers.”

    Where did the government get the OK to transform travel for all travelers? I always thought that was the marketplaces job. New forms of travel, vacation packages, interstate commerce, etc.. What are they transforming it from and to? When did Congress give them the right to start asking for papers from everyone?

    The impetus to check travelers at international boarders is more clear, though they go about it the wrong way and often for the wrong reasons. But there are no 'internal borders' within the United States (there may be some exceptions where there are checks about moving food stuffs that might contain parasites from one state to another, but those don't include facial recognition...yet).

    If DHS wants some backlash, start asking for peoples papers at every state border. Just think about New York City, for example. Connecticut and New Jersey are close enough to be considered bedroom communities for New York. How many thousands (or millions) of people commute to NYC every day. How long will they stand for having their 'papers' checked twice a day? This would add many hours to ones commute.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2018 @ 1:46pm

      Re: Department of Homeland Stasi

      The impetus to check travelers at international boarders is more clear, though they go about it the wrong way and often for the wrong reasons.

      FWIW, 20 years ago I just had to tell them I was Canadian to get across the border (and tell them the purpose and length of the visit and that I had no fruit or vegetables). I don't recall ever being searched or even asked for ID. It was never shown to be a major problem; the only impetus I see is greed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Sep 2018 @ 1:58pm

        Re: Re: Department of Homeland Stasi

        I can see more power for a power hungry agency looking for greater head trips. I can see bigger budgetary requests because they want to spend more money, though given how well the TSA has done at its job I think it might be difficult to justify (how many terrorists has TSA caught?). DHS personnel won't make any more money because they take pictures of everyone or ask for their papers. They don't get a cut of transportation expenditures by citizens.

        There might be some greed from any company hoping to supply equipment, but isn't that the tail wagging the dog?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2018 @ 2:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: Department of Homeland Stasi

          DHS personnel won't make any more money because they take pictures of everyone or ask for their papers. They don't get a cut of transportation expenditures by citizens.

          The DHS didn't exist 20 years ago. OK, there were still border guards, but payments for "security" have gone up greatly with little to show. The individual agents you interact with don't personally get "a cut" (if they're not stealing) but any proper cost-benefit analysis would have them out of a job. They could guard people from toddlers and furniture instead.

          There might be some greed from any company hoping to supply equipment, but isn't that the tail wagging the dog?

          It may be an apt metaphor to treat them as two parts of the same animal, given the amount of cronyism we see (OSI and Chertoff for example).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Sep 2018 @ 12:09pm

    Department of Homeland Stasi

    “We are at a critical turning point in the implementation of a biometric entry-exit system, and we’ve found a path forward that transforms travel for all travelers.”

    Where did the government get the OK to transform travel for all travelers? I always thought that was the marketplaces job. New forms of travel, vacation packages, interstate commerce, etc.. What are they transforming it from and to? When did Congress give them the right to start asking for papers from everyone?

    The impetus to check travelers at international boarders is more clear, though they go about it the wrong way and often for the wrong reasons. But there are no 'internal borders' within the United States (there may be some exceptions where there are checks about moving food stuffs that might contain parasites from one state to another, but those don't include facial recognition...yet).

    If DHS wants some backlash, start asking for peoples papers at every state border. Just think about New York City, for example. Connecticut and New Jersey are close enough to be considered bedroom communities for New York. How many thousands (or millions) of people commute to NYC every day. How long will they stand for having their 'papers' checked twice a day? This would add many hours to ones commute.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Smith, 5 Sep 2018 @ 1:39pm

    nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

    Just like soe don't care about copyrights or reputations, I couldn't care less about surveillance. No point fighting something I can't change since they win if I waste my time on what won't amount to much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2018 @ 1:46pm

      Re:

      If you don't care, then remain silent on the issue, and do not denigrate the actions and or try to silence the voices of those that do care.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Sep 2018 @ 3:00pm

      Re:

      nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

      Please post your Social Security number, email account password(s), bank account password(s), and work schedule.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        John Smith, 5 Sep 2018 @ 3:35pm

        Re: Re:

        You're not surveilling. I said I had no problemwith surveillance, and that doesn't make me neutral on the issue, only that I couldn't care less about surveillance because I have nothing to hide or fear.

        If you want to try to get that info through legal means it would be poitless to stop you anyway.

        What's your stance on software that can identify speakersfrom their language pattens more accurately than from a fingerprint? It scans the internet for matches and can narrow most speech down to one ortwo candidates in an hour or less.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Sep 2018 @ 4:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's not that such software exists. It's who is allowed to use it, and how they use the information.

          The government should not be allowed to, at any level without a warrant (though even that brings up the question of how to particularize such an action), though the NSA certainly does. The other entities that do should be prosecuted. Under what law you say? And there is where Congress fails us.

          That we are visible in public is not an issue, that someone collects and uses our movements is. The courts have said that placing a GPS device on someones car requires a warrant. How is this different?

          That you have nothing to hide is not the issue. The issue is privacy. Some argue that the Constitution does not specify privacy, but then we look at the 4th Amendment (and there may be other Amendments that refer to privacy obliquely).

          So, so far as the Internet is concerned, I put up with certain shenanigans, though I use a VPN. In public however, with respect to the government, I don't want them in my shorts. Let them get a warrant. Let them come after me, if they have a reason to. But letting them go after everyone, just because they travel, is a non sequitur, an excuse, an imposition, a grab for power which will lead to whatever the next step is. We don't want this step, or the next.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 10 Sep 2018 @ 8:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            To quote - or possibly slightly misquote - (IIRC) a famous sci-fi author:

            "Privacy is not about the right to break the law. It is about the right not to be watched every minute in the expectation that you might break the law."

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          bob, 5 Sep 2018 @ 4:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          From the movie Anon:

          "It's not that I have something to hide. I have nothing I want you to see."

          The government does use lawful means (warrants, etc.) to surveil people. But in this instance TSA and DHS are not seeking legal means because instead they have a blanket okay from congress to abuse 4th amendment rights because people became very scared after 9/11. And no matter what the patriot act, or whatever legal basis they use today, says, the government is not supposed to violate the constitutional rights all people in this country are entitled to.

          Now we obviously don't live in that ideal world where governments are incorruptible and always respect their citizens. That means people need to point out the problems when their government overreacts or does something illegal. The policy makers need to hold accountable those under them. And the citizens need to hold all members of the government accountible for their actions. Just because you have nothing to fear or hide now, doesn't give them the right to still invade your privacy or ignore your rights.

          In our current climate the various western governments have been routinely ignoring people's basic rights and it has been happening for far too long. Greed and power are what is motivating the expansion of DHS and TSA programs. Greed and Power are what drive a lot of things. But this doesn't mean we just let it continue.

          If you don't have a problem with illegal surveillance, or violations of basic human rights. If you don't have a problem that your own government looks at you not as a citizen but instead as a future criminal. Then you have already given up, and lost something precious. You just don't realize it yet.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Sep 2018 @ 5:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "...people became very scared after 9/11..."

            I agree, have an insightful vote.

            I will admit that I became scared after 9/11, for a couple of days, or maybe it was weeks. Then I realized that there were several failures that allowed that to happen.

            The reaction by the government, and I mean the executive and legislative branches, was merely a recognition of an opportunity. They had an agenda.

            Maybe there was a significant portion of the populace who were also scared, but they were accepting the things government had to say, and not looking closer at the situation. They didn't think long term. They didn't realize what was behind the manipulation the government presented. They didn't comprehend that the press was merely puppeting what the government told them. They didn't realize the long term and very personal impacts of government actions.

            Then the facts started to roll in. WMD's were a lie. Law enforcement's failure to keep track of people who the knew about that wanted to learn to fly, but not land, etc..

            There are all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories out there. The problem is, some of them might not be so crazy.

            That we let the government continue to rely on our supposed fear and increase the abrogation of our rights is a serious issue. Some point out that there are so many laws, many of which we don't know about (and some of them secret (what the hell is up with that, secret laws?)) that we, all of us, could commit several felonies daily, the only conclusion I can find is that the government is tracking us for the sole purpose of 'if we do something they don't like' they then have the ability to find us and charge us with 'something'. Until then, just keeping us under the pressure of whatever they are currently doing is good enough. When they want to pop you, they will.

            According to our current president, this post is a good reason to jail me, if for no other reason than to keep me from pointing out...reason. Good thing the law isn't on his side...yet. But the DOJ is working on social media competitiveness. Do you really think that is about competition? Or control? It is not the DOJ's job, it is the FTC's job. Why are they stepping in? Could it be because Trump is lambasting his Attorney General for not, well I don't know because I only read the headlines, but lambaste it was. Push here, get reaction there. It does not matter to them what they push, so long as the reaction leads to what they want. Power and control.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              bob, 5 Sep 2018 @ 7:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I believe enough of the general population stopped fearing about 2 to 5 years after 9/11. Problem was that by that time enough people were acclimated to the idea that we must have TSA as well as all the other programs the government created because people were afraid. Maybe not the exact versions we have now but at least an organization "looking out" for terrorists and our safety.

              Fear is natural to have. If we didn't have fear we would take too many risks and probably all be dead already. The problem is politicians took that feeling and ran as fast and far as they could to exploit it for greed and power.

              Sadly, politicians still use 9/11 for leverage in getting their agenda completed. And if an organization removed those programs (or at least greatly restricted them) and another terrorist attack did occur, it would only cement the stupid idea in peoples' heads that we can protect ourselves against all evil and that those programs weren't a waste of money. All just for the "low" price of giving enough money and freedoms away.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                John85851 (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 10:37am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "And if an organization removed those programs (or at least greatly restricted them) and another terrorist attack did occur, it would only cement the stupid idea in peoples' heads that we can protect ourselves against all evil and that those programs weren't a waste of money."

                And this is the same reason why politicians can't or won't vote to reduce the budgets on anything in the "war on terror"- they don't want their political opponents to accuse them of being soft on terrorism.
                So the same thing happens that always happens: someone asks if we really need invasive searching at airports and someone else says "but terrorism" and the agenda is passed.

                Yet no one seems to be asking about results. Do all these security procedures stop terrorism? Where's the scientific study showing statistics and proof? Oh, right, it's all about "feeling safe" even if there's no proof to show it works.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Chris-Mouse (profile), 5 Sep 2018 @ 5:45pm

      Re:

      So, you think you have nothing to fear? Current facial recognition makes a mistake about once in every ten times it tries to identify a face. How exactly do you plan to prove you're not a wanted felon when A) the DHS drones are told to always trust the computer, and B) those same drobnes will assume that anything you say is a lie.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 1:15am

      Re:

      This coming from the chucklefuck who boasts he made millions but won't say how...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 3:57am

        Re: Re:

        More like he claims he could make millions, but won't even try because pirates mean more people will read it than buy it. He ignore that even when the only way of distributing books was via paper, there were always several times more readers of an authors work that those who bought a new book; because they were lent to friends and family, or sold on as second hand, often more than once.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 5:16am

      Re:

      "nothing to hide, nothing to fear."

      Yeah, tell that to Richard Jewel. Access to nearly every single thing he did in his life - library books & movie rentals - allowed the govt to concoct a story from a constellation of data points that destroyed his life.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2018 @ 1:40pm

    for some reason the DHS now reminds me of things like 'mini-love' and 'mini-true' (for those who get the reference)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 5 Sep 2018 @ 2:07pm

    Dear Frogs the Water is Boiling

    DHS Continues Facial Recognition Deployment With An Eye On Expanding Program To All Domestic Travelers

    Please remain in the pot of boiling water as any unpleasantness will be over shortly.

    DHS/TSA checkpoints at airports, bus/train stations, sport/concert venues, mobile TSA VIPR teams are one great big social experiment that was put into affect in order to gauge the depth of depravity people willingly submit to.

    In allowing ourselves to be lined up like cattle and profiled, poked, prodded, undressed, sexually-molested, x-rayed, surveilled, humiliated etc at the arbitrary demand of a costumed government tax-feeder we have opened the barn door to all sorts of intrusive government exploitation.

    Which is exactly what happens when a once free people refuse to fight for their Rights and allow themselves to be treated as US government chattel.

    The choice is ours we can remain in the boiling water within the pot or we can jump out before it is to late.

    Never forget if we do not destroy ourselves from within and allow government to strip us of our rights the terrorists will win.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2018 @ 2:32pm

      Re: Dear Frogs the Water is Boiling

      And now someone's claiming it's negligent to not search people at a pizza place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Personanongrata, 5 Sep 2018 @ 2:52pm

        Re: Re: Dear Frogs the Water is Boiling

        And now someone's claiming it's negligent to not search people at a pizza place.

        Unfortunately the is world is inherently a dangerous place and is full of people who think nothing of using violence to resolve problems and all the police and all the searches can not keep all the people safe.

        "He who defends everything defends nothing" ~ Fredrick the Great

        We can not rely on government to keep us safe. It is every individuals duty to defend themselves, their family and property from harm.

        Law enforcement is really good a writing reports after all of the unpleasantness has ended.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Sep 2018 @ 2:59pm

        Re: Re: Dear Frogs the Water is Boiling

        When someone (or maybe their lawyers) smell an opportunity to cash in, the deeper the pocket(s) the more they ask for.

        To me, those someones have been listening to the rhetoric about how dangerous violent gaming can cause people to be violent. The problem is it was a game around football. And while there is a certain amount of violence in football, it is not like a first person shooter game, or other actually violent games. To me, a deranged person showed up to a public event and did bad things. Trying to place liability on the promoters of the contest is just trying to leverage the deep pockets for a payday.

        As an aside, I belonged to a chef's association who in conjunction with the NRA (National Restaurant Association, there is no trademark in acronyms) produced culinary salons during their annual convention. A culinary salon is basically an art exhibit where the exhibits are edible (but not eaten). The exhibitors, culinarians of all stripes including students showed up as early as 3:00 am to set their displays up.

        On one occasion this event took place in the convention center of a unionized hotel. The personnel working the convention center claimed they had to carry everything from the loading dock to the display tables. I explained to them that 'everything' were works of art, and delicate. I also mentioned that those doing the carrying, also carried knives. Knives for cooking or carving, but I wasn't that specific. Interestingly, the union folks backed down quickly. There was no actual potential for violence, but the culinarians would not have allowed anyone else to handle their displays.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2018 @ 2:13pm

    TSA will only use these photos for identity verification at the checkpoint and cannot access the photos after the inspection is completed.

    Until they can. Policies such as this can and do often change, not in the public's favor, without warning or notice. And this data will be shared with every other agency that wants it, again without warning or notice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nathan F (profile), 5 Sep 2018 @ 3:15pm

    I see that in the future when I travel I will have to obtain a hat that has a veil that comes down to the level of my nose.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bob, 5 Sep 2018 @ 4:47pm

      Re:

      Then they will put cameras in the floor so that thwy can see your face.
      What about up-skirt photos of people wearing loose fitting clothes below the waist you say? ... Merely a perk of the job for the man managing the cameras.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 8:02am

        Re: Re:

        What about up-skirt photos of people wearing loose fitting clothes below the waist you say? ... Merely a perk of the job for the man managing the cameras.

        They'll just use an algorithm to hide certain bits, as they did with the full-body scanners. They still take a picture of everything, but the TSA assures us humans can't see that picture.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Lol, have you ever programmed a computer to recognize a body part wwhile its in motion.

          It will be just as effective as they did for the body scanners which of course blurred so well that officers weren't caught masturbating to them.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 2:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Lol, have you ever programmed a computer to recognize a body part wwhile its in motion.

            No, but people make the mistake of trusting the TSA enough to walk through the existing scanners. They'll have people walking through these for any major event, as long they put up with it. No more bringing toothpaste to the stadium.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Winston Smith, 5 Sep 2018 @ 5:58pm

    Just who are the terrorists here? (and they call it Freedom)

    See Subject line.

    We're here.
    We do our time.
    We die.
    Repeat?

    What a revolting development this is! (as per William Bendix in the Life Of Riley radio show circa 1950.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sok Puppette, 6 Sep 2018 @ 8:23am

    Facial recognition isn't the problem

    The problem isn't that they're collecting faces. They already HAVE faces, because they put them into databases when they issue IDs. There's no reason they shouldn't just delete the airport photos, because they already have better ones.

    The problem is that they're collecting a total travel history on everybody. And that's not new; they've been doing it ever since they got a blank check in 2001. This makes it more efficient, but if they can't do facial recognition they'll just continue to do exactly the same thing the old fashioned way.

    Worrying about facial recognition is a distraction from trying to roll back the massive abuse that's already there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:06am

    Will facial regression demand that makeup be illegal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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