Mandatory photographing of travelers at US airports?

Well, not all travelers. Just the ones on international flights entering or leaving the country. That’s the plan that Homeland Security is looking to propose as early as next summer, though it would obviously take a while to implement. The program would employ facial recognition technology in an effort to spot terror suspects who are on the move or track down criminals attempting to leave the country. As usual, as soon as you bring up facial recognition software or any new tools to improve immigration security, liberals were quick to trash the idea. (Associated Press)

Federal officials are considering requiring that all travelers — including American citizens — be photographed as they enter or leave the country as part of an identification system using facial-recognition technology.

The Department of Homeland Security says it expects to publish a proposed rule next July. Officials did not respond to requests for more details.

Critics are already raising objections.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said Tuesday he will introduce legislation to block the plan and prohibit American citizens from being forced to provide facial-recognition information.

Markey is only one of the Democrats setting their hair on fire over this, but he tosses in the bonus of attacking Customs and Border Protection. Citing a recent security breach, Markey is quoted as saying that CBP “can’t be trusted with the information.”

Markey is referring to an incident from June of this year when it was announced that photos of travelers and license plates had been “compromised” in a data breach. But laying that charge at the feet of CBP is rather specious. In that incident, it wasn’t even the computer systems of CBP that were hacked. A software subcontractor had transferred a library of images to their own system which was later compromised by hackers.

And in the end, is that a justification for any sort of opposition? Systems get hacked all the time. It’s an ongoing cyber-battle where the good guys are usually playing catch-up. The DNC got hacked, as you may recall. Does that mean they can’t be trusted with anyone’s data? If so, perhaps they should stop being allowed to take campaign contributions via credit card.

We’ve been over this before, but it bears repeating. I understand that there are still problems with most facial recognition software. It’s prone to errors, particularly when trying to identify anyone other than white males. But it’s improving and they’ll get the technology working in due time.

In the meanwhile, I’m still waiting for someone to show me just one single instance where anyone was misidentified by such a system and ultimately wound up being prosecuted. It simply doesn’t happen. When one of these systems spits out a false positive, a human being still has to look at it before any action is taken. And if it’s a misidentification, the mistake is spotted and corrected.

The AP article brings up another good point to keep in mind. There are pilot programs in place at a number of major American airports where travelers have the option of having their faces scanned as part of the check-in process. Everyone has the option of avoiding that process, but barely one person per flight exercises that option. People simply aren’t as concerned about the privacy concerns being raised by liberal activists as they are with getting to the gate on time and keeping terrorists off their flight.