Not Ready for Takeoff: Face Scans at Airport Departure Gates

The Department of Homeland Security is planning to spend over a billion dollars to scan travelers’ faces – including Americans – as they leave the United States. The problem? There’s no evidence of a large-scale problem of people leaving the country under false identities – or an apparent legal authorization to track Americans in this way. What’s worse, DHS does not appear to know how accurate the system will be at catching impostors – the primary purpose for building it.

The product of a months-long review of regulatory filings, our report lays bare the litany of problems with DHS’ proposed “biometric exit” system. Released in an exclusive with the New York Times, the report is already shaping the way prominent stakeholders view biometric systems.

  • Our report spurred an oversight letter from Senators Mike Lee (R.-Utah) and Ed Markey (D.-Mass.), calling on DHS to justify various aspects of the program.
  • Senator Lee followed up with an op-ed in The Daily Signal. DHS’ decision to scan Americans’ faces without congressional authorization, he said, “stands in direct conflict with the Constitution and its Fourth Amendment protection of privacy.”