US customs officials are eyeing facial-recognition technology that could be used with border patrol agents' body cameras, according to a request for information filed by US Customs and Border Protection Oct. 16, 2019.
The agency is exploring technology "for body-worn cameras, software for video management and redaction, and cloud storage supporting an Incident Driven Video Recording System at CBP." A full copy of the agency's request for information was first published by The Register's Katyanna Quach on Oct. 17, 2019.
CBP described facial-recognition software as a "feature of potential interest" and requested information on whether the software is currently available, when it will be fully operational, and why a vendor chose not to offer the technology. The request for information is exploratory and doesn't mean any government action will necessarily be taken. CBP has already tested body cameras, but they are not standard across the agency.
In its request for information, CBP expressed interest in using facial-recognition software to build a database of people's faces and run images against that database. It also requested information about the possibility of running comparisons between a person's ID and an image of their face in real-time.
MQ-9 Predator B UAS operated by United States Customs and Border Protection.
Facial identification is already used widely by law enforcement agencies across the US. However, some lawmakers have begun to take steps to curb that trend: facial recognition is banned for use by police in certain cities, and on Oct. 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill suspending the use of facial-recognition technology by law enforcement for the next three years.
Human rights advocacy groups have decried the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, arguing that it constitutes overly-aggressive surveillance tactics.
"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," Chris Rickerd, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, told Reuters regarding the CBP filing.
A spokesperson for CBP did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
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