New facial recognition technology nabs ‘imposter’ at DC airport, Customs officials say

A new technology used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection has captured an “imposter” trying to get into the country, officials say.

According to a press release from the CBP, a man flew into the Washington Dulles International Airport from Brazil on Aug. 22 and tried to enter the U.S. with a French passport. But facial recognition technology revealed the man was not the same person shown in the passport, officials say, and authorities soon discovered he was actually a citizen of the Republic of Congo.

The man was caught on the third day of the facial recognition technology being used at the airport, according to the press release.

The new technology is being used at airports in Atlanta, Orlando, Las Vegas, Boston, Seattle, Miami, San Francisco and other cities throughout the country, the CBP wrote on its website.

Travelers stand in front of a camera for a picture, which is then compared to the image used for a person’s passport application, the CBP site said. The technology is being tested to see if it could eliminate the need for an ID or boarding pass as travelers go through security in the airport for international flights, the press release said.

Kevin McAleenan, from the CBP, said in an interview with Fox5 that “the algorithms are so sophisticated that they’re able to determine matches over 99 percent of the time in our testing.”

In the Dulles case, after the technology determined the man didn’t match his passport, he became “visibly nervous” as he was subjected to a “comprehensive examination,” the press release says. Officials say they found his ID from the Republic of Congo in his shoe.

That was the first time the facial recognition technology had ever caught someone, according to officials.

Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, California, praised the technology and said it would cut down on wait times at the Mineta San Jose International Airport, according to The Star. KTVU reports that it has been used at the airport for all international flights since Aug. 6. San Jose International Airport was the first West Coast airport to implement the technology, the KTVU report said.

In the four weeks since using the new facial recognition technology, the average processing time for incoming international travelers at the San Jose airport dropped by nearly four minutes, according to The Star.

Brian Humphrey, director of the San Francisco and Portland field offices of the CBP, said that’s what makes it a “win-win,” according to The Star report.

“It’s a win for protecting our border,” he said, according to The Star. “And it’s a win so those who wish to enter the United States legitimately can continue to do so efficiently.”

But some have concerns the technology could end up invading the privacy of American citizens in the long run.

“My concerns are that this technology will be used beyond its current scope,” Matthew Feeney, director of CATO’s Project on Emerging Technologies, told Fox5. “I worry that facial recognition will migrate from airports throughout federal law enforcement, putting the privacy of law abiding Americans at risk.”