CBP to use facial recognition software in biometric exit processing

Facial recognition biometric exit technology will be deployed at Washington Dulles International Airport., U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced in early June, 2017. The technology will be used daily for one flight to Dubai from the United States, building upon an earlier pilot program at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Additional airports will be added this summer.

Acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said that biometric exit technology would facilitate legitimate travel while enhancing security. McAleenan said that CBP had worked with airport and airline stakeholders to test and develop a viable technological solution.

The technology works by building a flight specific photo gallery based on the flight manifest and travel documents provided by travelers. CBP then compares the photos in the galleries to live photos captured at boarding, to ensure the travelers are the true bearers of the documents. If a traveler is confirmed to be a U.S. citizen – because their photo matches a photo from a U.S. passport – then the individual is considered to be outside the scope of the biometric exit process, and their photo will be discarded, CBP said.

A biometric exit process is also being implemented on flights from Boston to Aruba, in a collaboration between CBP and JetBlue. The program will test a new self-boarding process. Travelers who opt in to the process will have their photo taken instead of presenting a boarding pass. Other pilot programs led by airlines will go live this summer.