CBP mulls facial recognition tech for body cams

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is considering using facial recognition in body cameras that agents will wear in the future, sending out a request for information (RFI) on biometric options that can be used to verify identity.

This after California banned the use of facial recognition technology in body cameras and body cam manufacturer Axon said it would prohibit the surveillance technology in its products,

As the CBP mulls “a targeted deployment to expand its audio and video recording capability to record agent interactions with the public using IDVRS,” including “body-worn cameras (BWC), video management systems (VMS), IT infrastructure, data storage systems, and other interrelated systems supporting incident-driven recordings,” according to the RFI. The CBP is considering facial recognition technology to run “against a database of preexisting images” and to compare a source document, such as an ID, “against the real-time image of the person.”

Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Body Camera Accountability Act into law, banning the use of facial recognition technology in body cams for three years. The state has crafted some of the strongest data and privacy protections in the country and has been particularly concerned about the use of facial recognition technology as a surveillance tool with San Francisco in May banning police and city agencies from using it.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) rapped CBP for considering the use of the technology. “Congress must step in to safeguard our privacy rights and civil liberties from CBP's dystopian plans,” ACLU Senior Policy Counsel Chris Rickerd said in a statement.

Noting that "body cameras were promised to communities as a tool for officer accountability and should not be twisted into surveillance systems to be used against communities,” Rickerd said, “Face recognition surveillance gives governments an unprecedented power to track, classify, and discriminate against people based on their most personal, innate features.”

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