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Facial Scanning Now Arriving At US Airports (npr.org) 79

According to a report via NPR, a Geneva-based company called SITA that develops information technology for the world's airlines has installed facial scanning cameras at Orlando International Airport. "Britain-bound passengers -- some wearing Mickey Mouse T-shirts and other Disney paraphernalia -- lined up at Gate 80 recently for the evening British Airways flight to London's Gatwick Airport," reports NPR. "It looks like any other airport departure area, except for the two small gates with what look like small boxes on posts next to them. Those boxes are actually cameras." From the report: Sherry Stein, a senior manager at SITA, says the cameras are triggered when passengers step onto designated footprints. "We collect a photo, send it to CBP, who checks to make sure that person is booked on the manifest and matches the photo that they already have on file." If everything matches, Stein says, "we open the doors and give them the OK to board." All that happens, she says, "in three to five seconds." If things don't match, the traveler's passport is scanned manually by a gate agent. CBP is testing biometric scanning at a dozen or so U.S. international airports to ensure that people leaving the country are who they say they are, and to prevent visa overstays. The Transportation Security Administration, another agency within the Department of Homeland Security, is testing similar devices at security check-in lines.
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Facial Scanning Now Arriving At US Airports

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  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Friday March 16, 2018 @09:02PM (#56273135)
    Russians must be laughing their asses off at the Americans. During Soviet times, bet they didn't think that the US would move towards a system just like theirs or East Germany's, where you needed permission to leave the country. But that's what the US is doing, all under the guise of safety and keeping residents of "shitholes" out. Congrats to us.
    • Agreed. For as much as Russia has and keeps doing, we seem hellbent on racing to catch up to them.

      • State ID card. I'm flying from San Diego California to Austin Texas and must provide a valid ID. Don't drive so I must goto the DMV to get another type if ID. Also I want to bring two walkie talkie radios with me, hope they're not confiscated.
    • where you needed permission to leave the country.

      You don't need permission to leave the country. You need permission to enter if you aren't a resident, and some people are avoiding that step. They're also avoiding leaving when their permission runs out.

      • If they screen people when they leave, how long before they start restricting citizens from leaving? A "no travel list" vs a "no fly list" -- people will start finding themselves on it due to unpopular views. Remember, the current administration is known for extreme pettiness.

        Government shouldn't be given this power.

        • If they screen people when they leave, how long before they start restricting citizens from leaving?

          I can play that game, too. If they keep citizens from leaving, how long before they shoot you to death while standing in line? This is fun. Can we make up more fanciful stuff instead of talk about what is actually happening?

          You probably don't realize, if the government really wanted to stop people from leaving they'd implement customs and immigration exit points like a lot of other countries already do. For example, when you exit Germany, you go through immigration where they stamp your passport and check

          • In Germany, you can literally walk across the French border without being screened. e.g.
            http://static.panoramio.com/ph... [panoramio.com]

            BTW, as far as the shooting example, if they murder you, they can't milk you for tax money for the rest of your life. In East Germany, they let you leave at age 60, when you were no longer useful to the State. Who says the US won't do the same to prevent a "brain drain", considering the current tide of anti-intellectualism that will likely send smart, productive people running.

            • In Germany, you can literally walk across the French border without being screened. e.g.

              What does that have to do with what happens at an airport?

              The rest of this flight of fiction could be fascinating, but not tonight. It's a waste of time playing "what if" games.

              • What difference does it make whether you leave the country by air, train, or foot for the purpose of immigration enforcement?
                • What difference does it make whether you leave the country by air, train, or foot for the purpose of immigration enforcement?

                  If you're leaving for a non-Schengen destination by air, you'll go through border controls before boarding the plane. If you're flying to another point within the Schengen Area, you don't even need your passport, just your state-issued ID card showing that you're a Schengen national. Doesn't matter if the airport's in Germany, France, or even Sweden. If you're crossing a land border between two Schengen countries, you generally just walk, ride, or drive past the little "Welcome to $country" sign by the side

                  • Hungary has entry checks. Rented a car in Germany, drove around in Central Europe for a couple of weeks, but they did stop us at the Austrian-Hungarian border. No questions were asked, no passports were pulled out, but we were also in a German-tagged car and were clearly of European ancestry. Also, we were driving a station wagon (no trunk to hide things), and we’re both in our forties, so not exactly the kind of people trying to smuggle stuff or ourselves into the country.
                • When we're talking about a facial recognition system at an airport, it is kinda relevant whether you are at an airport or not. Don'tch think maybe?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I hate flying now. Every trip reminds me of how an attack by few men with a few planes has us throwing out the Constitution. The attack was terrible, but the fact that bin Laden predicted it would lead to a U.S. government crackdown on its own citizens really pisses me off.

      We should have been better, braver.

    • Russians must be laughing their asses off at the Americans. During Soviet times, bet they didn't think that the US would move towards a system just like theirs or East Germany's, where you needed permission to leave the country.

      Please show me airport taking an international flight where your passport is not checked on exit.
      Schengen zone excepted of course.

      Seriously I'm struggling with this concept. Exit checks have been part of flying since flying existed. Errr. actually since passports existed. These cameras are also in airports all over the world and I actually think the USA are among the last to get them.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Lay off the crack pipe. As bad as the Big Brother nonsense has become, it is nothing remotely like what people had to deal with on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

      • Baby steps, baby steps, give it time. Trump's blatent hatemongering about outsiders is very much in the style of an East European or Latin American caudillo.
        • Read "The Feast of the Goat," ideally in Spanish if you can. The parallels between Trujillo-era rhetoric in DR and Trump-era rhetoric in the US are telling, and disturbing as hell.
  • Epic fail (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davecb ( 6526 ) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Friday March 16, 2018 @09:47PM (#56273287) Homepage Journal

    No matter how good a percentage you have (below 100%, of course), the birthday paradox will give you a ton of false positives.

    It's because you're actually doing N*(N-1) comparisons, where N ::= (the number of passenger a day at the airport + the number of crooks you're looking for). For a probability of 1-(1/365) (ie, 99.7% accuracy), you get a 100% chance of a false positive after 367 people... see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    The German security service supposedly identified somebody's grandmother as a terrorist, and stopped the experiment abruptly.

    • What does this "birthday paradox", which isn't actually a paradox but a function of probability, have to do with facial recognition? Even when there is a false positive, there is immediate backup to deal with it. You're holding a photo id and have a face, which a human can match if the computer failed to do it correctly.
      • So what's the advantage of this system then? To line the pockets of another useless contractor?

        • So what's the advantage of this system then?

          You are really asking if they aren't comparing people's birthdays as a means of identifying immigration scofflaws then what's the advantage? Really? The advantage is pretty clear. Using birthdays to determine identity is pretty stupid, but facial recognition isn't. If your face matches the face of someone who entered the country on a short-term visa and you were supposed to have left already, you're caught. If your face doesn't match the face that was recorded when you entered, then you're not the person wh

          • No, I mean seeing that the end arbiter is a human, how is this expensive system with a 100% chance of false positives any better than just a human?

            • No, I mean seeing that the end arbiter is a human, how is this expensive system with a 100% chance of false positives any better than just a human?

              Do you participate in any of the autonomous vehicle discussions? I'd be fascinated to know your stand on "computers are better"/"humans are better" in that context.

              Humans get tired, they get distracted, they get bored. The end arbiter is not a human for most cases. For most cases the computer will say "ok" and the gates open. Only for those that the computer generates a false (or real) positive does a human get involved.

              • When they do a cost/benefit analysis, I'll be impressed. Clearly an expensive solution looking for a problem.

        • So what's the advantage of this system then?

          1. Cheaper
          2. Faster
          3. More accurate

      • by davecb ( 6526 )

        The stated first purpose of the system is well served, but unless there is a law in place (PIPEDA in Canada) to force them to be used for only that purpose and then discarded, the images can then be used for the second purpose, "to ensure that people leaving the country are who they say they are, and to prevent visa overstays", as well as any third, fourth or fifth purpose that CBP (which standa for "Customs and Border Patrol") may see as desirable. The first may well work, but the second necessarily fails,

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      No matter how good a percentage you have (below 100%, of course), the birthday paradox will give you a ton of false positives. It's because you're actually doing N*(N-1) comparisons, where N ::= (the number of passenger a day at the airport + the number of crooks you're looking for).

      No it doesn't - they're not looking whether you match one of a list of crooks. From the article, "We collect a photo, send it to CBP, who checks to make sure that person is booked on the manifest and matches the photo that they already have on file.". From that description they're solely measuring your photo now against your photo on file.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        From the article, "We collect a photo, send it to CBP, who checks to make sure that person is booked on the manifest and matches the photo that they already have on file.". From that description they're solely measuring your photo now against your photo on file.

        Yeah, this seems like a fairly innocent check that replaces the cursory glance the airport staff would have at your ID, if you look kinda like yourself you'll probably pass. My guess is that this is about getting the camel's nose in the tent though, once people have accepted a machine scanning them for identification it'll be upgraded to a Windows Hello/Apple iPhoneX facial scan, I mean this is already consumer technology and you don't have a "problem" with poor lighting or hats or sunglasses or whatever, i

    • The birthday problem has zero relevance here and you seem to have a backwards understanding of what they're even trying to do (based on their claims), not to mention how the statistics should be applied.

      A) This is happening at the gate in place of scanning boarding passes. They aren't comparing you against crooks at this step, nor does it make sense for them to bother; they're comparing you against the passenger manifest to make sure you're on the right flight.

      B) As such, a false positive isn't a problem fo

      • by davecb ( 6526 )
        That's half of what the article says is in play, and it makes prefect sense, just as you argue. Your concern with the other uses are what I'm speaking to: if they are "to ensure that people leaving the country are who they say they are, and to prevent visa overstays", then that's the more general case, as well as the thin edge of the wedge aimed at normalizing surveillance that would normally be seen as abhorrent.
    • The German security service supposedly identified somebody's grandmother as a terrorist, and stopped the experiment abruptly.

      Clearly you haven't flown in an out of Germany ... or any non US city for that matter. This is no more a problem than standard human checks and is resolved in exactly the same way.

      Note a friend of mine entered and exited China on his brother's passport. They all look the same jokes aside, they really look nothing alike.

  • I thought the department of homeland security was a temporary thing. Yet here you are now, 17 years later. And they have money to advocate for anything they want to do, the same as your ministries of education and health.

    Amazing how that happens.

  • Criminal recidivists (and their crimes) are well known to authorities. I mean why harass millions of travelers at airports to catch dealers when they deal practically openly on city streets.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Criminal recidivists (and their crimes) are well known to authorities. I mean why harass millions of travelers at airports to catch dealers when they deal practically openly on city streets.

      Really? So the government of Botswana knows about all the criminals in Moldova? Visas are used to enter a country and determine what permissions you have (I.E. in regards to employment and residency). These cameras are for leaving a country. Its still nothing but pointless security theatre (well, I'm sure someone is making money off it) but its got absolutely nothing to do with visas.

  • "and to prevent visa overstays" Huh? You want to detain people for visa overstays as they're trying to leave the country? How does that help?

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