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US Citizens won't be subject to compulsory facial recognition when entering/leaving America
An announcement by the Department of Homeland Security ensures facial recognition of US Citizens at American Airports is not mandatory, and is controlled


The Department of Homeland Security has issued a statement which eases concerns raised by privacy groups that US Citizens could subject to compulsory facial recognition at the US border.

On December 3rd, tech website The Register reported that "The Trump Administration is planning to fast-track a new policy of compulsory facial recognition at the border, and including US citizens and permanent residents in its plans for the first time". The Register article refered to a DHS note which stated "DHS is proposing to amend the regulations to provide that all travelers, including U.S. citizens, may be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure".

However, in the DHS' latest statement, dated December 4, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) explained that "US citizens may opt out of the biometric facial comparison process by notifying a CBP officer or airline representative. Individuals who opt out simply present their passport for visual inspection, as is standard practice at ports of entry today." The same statement confirmed that other measures have been implemented to safeguard privacy of American citizens, including:

• Reducing the maximum retention period for new photos of U.S. citizens from 14 days to 12 hours;
• Establishing stringent business requirements that ensure that airlines and other partners do not retain traveler photos for their own business purposes;
• Working with business partners to provide travelers with sufficient privacy notice by enhancing signage and announcements at departure gates;

The CBP has also published details of its Privacy Impact Assessment, "to inform the public of how the agency will collect, use and store personally identifiable information as part of the new biometric process."

Explaining the statement, John Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner of the CBP Office of Field Operations, said "CBP is committed to keeping the public informed about our use of facial comparison technology ... We are implementing a biometric entry-exit system that protects the privacy of all travelers while making travel more secure and convenient".

More details on the CBP's biometric entry-exit system and how it affects US Citizens can be found via www.cbp.gov/travel/biometrics/biometric-exit-faqs.

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