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Say Cheese! Trump Administration Proposes Face Scans for All Travelers Crossing US Borders

© AP Photo / Denis PoroyFile Photo of Biometric Face-Scanning
File Photo of Biometric Face-Scanning - Sputnik International
The Trump administration is planning to implement a new policy next year that would require all travelers, including US citizens, who enter or leave the US to be photographed. It’s unclear, however, whether the policy will apply to US airports or all US border crossings.

The proposal, which is expected to be issued in July 2020 by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), plans to use face scans to identify and track travelers.

The proposed regulation has already received criticism. 

Jay Stanley, a senior political analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, released a statement Monday voicing privacy concerns regarding the policy.

“Travelers, including US citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel. The government’s insistence on hurtling forward with a large-scale deployment of this powerful surveillance technology raises profound privacy concerns,” he wrote.

According to an outline of the proposed rule from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Office of Management and Budget, the “biometric entry-exit system” will use “facial recognition” to “help prevent persons attempting to fraudulently use US travel documents and identify criminals and known or suspected terrorists.” 

Although the posting fails to specify at which US ports of entry or exit the facial scans will take place, it has been reported that they may be conducted at airports nationwide.

In a statement regarding the policy, a spokesperson for US Customs & Border Protection (CBP), which is the DHS’ federal law enforcement agency, said that it is “currently in the rulemaking process and will ensure that the public has the opportunity to comment prior to the implementation of any regulation.”

The CBP has faced backlash in recent months, particularly for a data breach in June that leaked the photos of people and cars traveling into and out of the US, TechCrunch reported. The photos were exposed through a “malicious cyberattack” after being transferred to a subcontractor’s network, a CBP spokesperson explained at the time.

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