CBP deploys biometric exit technology at Washington Dulles

07/06/17

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun trialling biometric technology evaluation aimed at improving the agency’s ability to verify and track the departure of foreign nationals at Washington Dulles Airport.

The trial involves one daily flight from the United States to Dubai, and builds upon a June 2016 pilot at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport using facial recognition. Future deployments of the technology are planned for additional airports this summer.

“CBP has been working closely with airline and airport stakeholders to test biometric exit technology and as a result has developed a viable exit solution based on facial recognition,” said Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “This process, now being deployed to Washington Dulles International Airport, enhances our security while continuing to facilitate legitimate travel.”

Using the flight manifest, CBP builds a flight specific photo gallery using photographs from the travel document the traveler provided to the airline. CBP then compares the live photo against the document photo in the gallery to ensure the traveler is the true bearer of the document. If the photo captured at boarding is matched to a U.S. passport, the traveler—having been confirmed as a U.S. citizen—is automatically determined to be out of scope for biometric exit purposes and the photo is discarded after a short period of time. CBP remains committed to protecting the privacy of all travelers.

On May 31, JetBlue announced a collaboration with CBP to test a new self-boarding process as part of ongoing trials to implement a biometric exit process. The program will start in June on flights from Boston Logan International Airport to Queen Beatrix International Airport in Aruba. Customers who opt in during the boarding process can put away their boarding passes and devices and simply step up to the camera for a quick photo. Additional airline-led pilots will also go live this summer.

There are several Congressional mandates that direct the Department of Homeland Security to record the arrival and departure of non-U.S. citizens by collecting biometrics. CBP first established biometric screening procedures based on digital fingerprints for certain non-U.S. citizens in 2004 to secure our borders and ensure that the foreign travelers presenting themselves for admission to the United States are who they claim to be.

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