At the start of the Trump administration there was tremendous media attention over the travel ban for nationals of several countries, but I pointed out at the time one of the lesser-noticed provisions was expediting implementation of exit controls at the border. This wasn’t just about keeping people out, it was also about keeping them in.
A plan to tackle departure monitoring for visitors to the United States has been law for 23 years but hasn’t been implemented due to cost and physical practicality.
The Obama was working on a similar plan they hoped to implement by 2020.
DHS has been testing a biometric departure system at several airports.
- The system matched photos of a passenger to someone else 0.03% of the time, and failed to match a passenger to the correct person 0.5% of the time which would mean problems for over half a million passengers a year.
- Of course that’s only when the government’s systems work, in fact “frequent system disruptions hindered photo capture and automated data exchange” for 15% of passengers.
The plan has become more ambitious in fact a Department of Homeland Security report details the plan to require all departing passengers, including all citizens, to have photos (mug shots) taken when leaving the United States. (HT: Papers Please)
Furthermore they do not plan to stop at air travel, they plan to “incrementally deploy biometric capabilities across all modes of travel — air, sea, and land — by fiscal year 2025.”
DHS wants airlines and airports to pay for this. That’s being resisted, so DHS plans to offer airlines collecting data the ability keep that data and use it for other purposes.