Whenever a terrorist or terror cell maims or kills innocents, it is not uncommon to hear people say, “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” Those are dangerous words, because sometimes, government listens. When someone dies because they drank 10 shots in an hour we put in new laws that ruin the act of having an after dinner cocktail for everyone in the country, for instance. Soon “everyone” who drinks anything is a “danger” on the road. This proves that overreach happens in all walks of life, not just in areas of global security. Just the same, those are the areas that tend to bring us things like the “Patriot Act” and assaults to our liberty.
We have learned today that “facial scanning technology” is about to start seeing widespread use at “U.S. airport border checkpoints,” as reported by the Conservative Tribune. The last time the TSA or similar agencies got it into their heads to “help” security, it resulted in backscatter radiation machines that were a cancer risk, and poorly calibrated (which makes them MORE cancer promoting). It is said that this new scanning technology shall only track “facial features of American visa holders as they leave the United States” and that Trump is “fast tracking” the idea.
This is good news since Trump is someone who does not seem bent on destroying our way of life, just of keeping us safe. The overarching issue here is that he won’t be president for life. Trusting Trump is not the problem since he seems to keep his word. The problem is that some other administration is going to perhaps come along that uses this as a first step towards a further erosion of our Fourth Amendment, the “right to be left alone.” Soon it is “scanned to shop, scanned to buy, scanned to sell, etc.” and then that becomes the “new normal.” Security is not the fear here; abuse in the name of security is.
“Passengers would have their photos taken immediately before boarding, to be matched with the passport-style photos provided with the visa application, said the Verge. They also state that “If there’s no match in the system, it could be evidence that the visitor entered the country illegally.” This is a common sense use of the technology that few will take issue with. Those opposed to drones are now very open to using them for “boy in the well” kind of rescues, for instance. It all depends on what the technology is used for, how it is used, and on who it is used. There is a fine line between keeping us safe and intruding into the rights of America. After Obama, the average man and woman has every reason to fear such implementations.
The new system is called “Biometric Exit” and in 2015 it saw it’s first testing at Washington-area Dulles International Airport. Many news sites have said that the technology is incorrect rather frequently, but it can be imagined that this won’t be the case as it is fine-tuned and calibrated. JFK International saw tests a year later and the system is still in use for the “Orlando to Tokyo” flight. The plans are to see this system used at every international airport in America in the long run.
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had made plans to see the Biometric Exit debut in 2018, but Donald Trump sped up the plans significantly. The White House is using the new science to work in tandem with his travel ban. This will go a long way in making sure that those who do get to come here from sharia-based lands will at least be not as likely to sneak in if harm is intended. Since they are not Americans (i.e. entitled to Constitutional protections) and many are from those nations that have promised to kill us, scanning them is not a step in the wrong direction. Only if it becomes insidiously used in the nation will it become worrisome, something that needs safeguarded against as soon as possible with legal guardrails firmly in place.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s Larry Panetta, said at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio that the progress of the system and its use is natural. He also said, “Facial recognition is the path forward we’re working on. We currently have everyone’s photo, so we don’t need to do any sort of enrollment. We have access to the Department of State records so we have photos of U.S. citizens, we have visa photos, we have photos of people when they cross into the U.S. and their biometrics are captured,” into databases here.
It can be overused, clearly, and that is what we see in other parts of the world. China actually face scans people to ensure that they did not use too much toilet paper. If that sounds like something that could never happen in America, let us remember that Bloomberg as Mayor wanted to do the same thing minus the scanning to pop drinkers. Had he had the technology, it can be envisioned that he would have had it set up near every soda fountain from here to Beijing.
Thankfully, what is left of our free society at least has allowed this news to get out. We don’t want terrorists coming to keep promises to Allah about slaughtering us as we go about our daily lives, so there is a place for such science in the modern world. Just like drones, people need to get vocal about it. We saw people using their Second Amendment to protect their Fourth with drones, and while that is not a good idea in close quarters, the point is clear. If the people demand that the government only use this in certain contexts then that is what shall happen. The average flyer decided that chemotherapy did not sound like much fun so the backscatter radiation machines have been mothballed. That there is proof that we don’t need to fear the technology as much as we need to fear our own apathy in how we let our leaders us it.