US border imposter identification failures
Occurred: February 2021
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) failed to turn up a single example of an individual impersonating someone else at US airports, despite using facial recognition to scan 23+ million travelers’ faces at 30+ points of entry in 2020. The findings call into question the effectiveness of its facial recognition system.
According to a February 2021 OneZero report based on the agency's 2020 annual report (pdf), the CPB has been testing the collection and analysis of traveller biometrics, including fingerprints and facial images since 2013.
Techdirt's Tim Cushing notes, 'Spending millions to deal with a minor problem by deploying tech that remains unproven shouldn’t be considered acceptable. Neither is the alternative: a system that rarely recognizes imposters, allowing government agencies to assume it’s less of a problem than it might actually be.
A September 2020 US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (pdf) took issue with the CPB over lackluster accuracy audits, poor signage notifying the public the technology is being used, and the paucity of public information on how its systems worked.
Published: January 2023