The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was met with some pretty major backlash last week after announcing a plan that requires all United States citizens to be photographed when entering or exiting the country via airports. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security had stated that they would be submitting a formal proposal for the plan in July of 2020. Many lawmakers and members of the public instantly began contesting the plan on the basis of privacy concerns. It looks like the efforts worked. The Department of Homeland Security announced at the end of last week that it would be removing the idea from its regulatory agenda.
Who is leading the fight against mandatory facial-recognition compliance at airports in the United States? Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts stated that he would introduce legislation blocking any plan that requires United States citizens to be photographed at airports. Markey cited a recent data breach at Customs and Border Protection (CPB) to demonstrate that the personal details of citizens would be vulnerable if photographs were mandatory. He is now calling the removal of the plan a victory for all American travelers.
Privacy advocates won a small victory. However, anyone who is following the situation closely knows that the Department of Homeland Security doesn't appear to have any intention of slowing down plans to make biometric identification the standard at airports in the United States. President Trump issued an executive order back in March of 2017 directing the Department of Homeland Security to speed up the development and installment of facial-recognition technology at airports. Government officials see biometric technology as being the big breakthrough that will help airport workers to identify potential terrorists and spot the use of fraudulent travel documents in real time. Both airlines and airports around the country are very receptive to biometric technology. In fact, more than 11 airports in the United States currently have biometric scanning in place.