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Facial recognition in US airports

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Should we be alarmed?

To name a few, JFK, Los Angeles and San Francisco airports are just three of the 20 airports where the US government decided to install a facial recognition software.

According to recent reports, the software, in compliance with an executive order inked by President Donald Trump, will be deployed to the top 20 airports of the United States by 2021 to identify every international passenger as well as American citizens.

Facial recognition software is an advanced technology that has the capability to verify an individual’s identity from a digital image sourced from a video. It works through a comparison of selected facial facets from a given image within the databases.

Today, facial recognition software is widely used in different forms of devices, be it a mobile phone, computers and tablets.

However, the United States Department of Homeland Security wants this to be implemented across all states the soonest even though they still lack proper vetting and regulatory safeguards.

“By partnering with airports and airlines to provide a secure stand-alone system that works quickly and reliably, which they will integrate into their boarding process, CBP (US Customs and Border Protection) does not have to rebuild everything from the ground up as we drive innovation across the travel experience,” a spokesman told BuzzFeed News.

With the plans on installing the software, the US envisions to integrate its program of protecting its nation from terrorist activities with the fight against threats from foreign nationals.

The US has the busiest airports in the world with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Los Angeles Airport (LAX) and O’Hare International Airport with the highest volume of flight annually.

But, what’s the dilemma? Accuracy.

For some experts, the technology is not yet one hundred percent ready to be used by a mass audience. One Technology director Patrick Hunter said the software is known for false positives where the technology inaccurately “thinks” it got a match.

“In this context, someone’s profile stored on an unknown number of systems with unknown data attached to it can lead to some worrying, albeit rare, scenarios where you could be mistakenly identified as a criminal,” he added.

But aside from the accuracy, invasion of privacy is what worries most citizens. With the amount of data that will be collected by the US government, it merely implies that a person’s private data will be exposed as well.

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