Identity theft

New Facial Recognition Tech Catches Traveler Imposter at U.S. Airport


Facial recognition technology helped U.S. border agents catch a traveler posing as a French citizen — and did so on the third day that authorities were using the biometric authentication system, officials said this week.

The incident happened Tuesday (Aug. 22) at Washington Dulles International Airport, according to a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It involved a 26-year-old man “traveling from Sao Paulo, Brazil (who) presented a French passport to the CBP officer conducting primary inspections.” The agency’s new facial recognition authentication system determined that the man did not match the identity on the passport.

“The CBP officer referred the traveler to secondary for a comprehensive examination,” the statement said. “In secondary, CBP officers noted the traveler’s behavior changed and he became visibly nervous. A search revealed the man’s authentic Republic of Congo identification card concealed in his shoe.”

Dulles is one of 14 “early adopter” airports for the facial recognition technology. Biometric entry and exit technology uses facial comparison to provide additional security and to improve efficiency for international travelers, the agency said.

Using biometrics to authenticate airplane travelers is a focus of the latest Digital Identity Tracker from PYMNTS. Colleen Manaher of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection discussed how and why the agency has invested in biometric technology to secure select entry points to the United States.

The goal, Manaher said, is to change the way travelers enter and exit the country. In the future, she said, international travelers could board a flight bound for the U.S. in another country, arrive in the States, and clear Customs and Border checkpoints without ever displaying a passport or other travel document.

“This is something the government has worked on for a long time,” she said. “We want to change the face of air travel.”

Beyond that, portable biometric identity with a fingerprint or iris scan can help travelers board flights more efficiently —  or to even allow people to fast-track the entrance at sporting events and concerts, and complete transactions with a quick scan of something every consumer has on them at all times. Ken Cornick, co-founder and president of CLEAR, discussed that in depth with  Karen Webster for a recent Monday Conversation.



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