The technology was trialled in an airport in Washington last year

US customs control installs facial recognition at JFK airport

New York’s JFK Airport has introduced facial-recognition technology to verify passenger identities against their passport photo.

Initially, the readers will be used to screen passengers arriving from countries where visas are waived and to randomly check on returning US citizens.

The technology compares a picture of the traveller taken during the normal inspection process with the image stored on their ePassport.

Since 2007, US passports have had a chip embedded in them that securely stores the same information that’s on the photo page of the passport, which includes a biometric identifier in the form of a digital image of the passport photograph. The new system uses this data to make the comparison.

Customs and border protection commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said that the technology was implemented to help reduce human error.

“This biometric capability will aid our officers in identifying legitimate travellers while protecting them from fraud and identity theft with little to no delay to the entry process,” he said.

Kerlikowske said the images will be deleted unless it is determined that additional enforcement action is needed.

The US Department of Customs and Border Protection has been testing the new system for some time. Last year, it successfully trialled an installation of the technology at Washington Dulles International Airport.

In addition to facial recognition, the department said it will be "conducting additional tests to evaluate new biometric technologies in multiple environments in 2016".

Last year, students from Birmingham City University invented a cane for blind people that used a facial recognition system to help users identify friends and family.

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