United States airports are set to deploy facial recognition software in its top 20 airports for all international travelers by 2021. This is due to an executive order signed by President Trump in March 2017. The reason for its quick action plan is due to potential threats “from terrorist activities by foreign nationals admitted to the United States”. The system is known as a “biometric entry-exit system”. If implemented, the facial recognition software could effectively scan over 100 million passengers seeking international travel.

However, according to a recent report by BuzzFeed News, these programs are being rushed into place without safeguards or adequate vetting of the systems due to the restricting deadline. In addition to this, there have also been concerns raised the legality of the systems, and how it could affect private citizens. Currently, there are no operating parameters in place to regulate how airlines partnering in this process can use the data being accumulated, creating a huge security challenge for the technology.

There are also challenges when it comes to the accuracy of these types of software, as it is likely not yet fine-tuned enough for accurate mass use. This could create huge problems down the road if someone is inaccurately matched to a criminal within the database, which could also lead to impending lawsuits.

Accumulating large amounts of such personal data could result in huge security risks.  If these databases of information are not properly safeguarded, it could leave millions of private citizens information at risk of exposure.

The international airports included on the list so far are:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Detroit
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Housing Hobby
  • JFK
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Orlando
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Washington

The airlines actively supporting these measures are American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Lufthansa, and JetBlue.