US Customs pilots face-rec for returning citizens

US customs launches biometric pilot at airports (Security Document World)

“The facial recognition software provides the [CBP Officers] with a match confidence score after the e-passport chip is scanned and the photo is taken. The score is generated by algorithms designed to detect possible imposters.”

A one-to-one search comparing the passport photo to the person standing at the customs kiosk is about as simple as a facial recognition deployment gets.

The only complicating factor is where they get the photo. If they use the photo physically present on the passport’s photo page, they will probably want to contend with the security marks and holograms somehow while processing the image for matching. If they want to use the photo stored electronically on the passport’s internal chip, as it appears they do, they’ll need some specialized hardware that retrieves the photo and the issue of “broken” passports will arise. Still, as far as country-level biometric deployments go, this one isn’t too daunting.

In a post-pilot phase, it may be desirable to use the passport number to pull the photo from a State Department database and compare that to the passport image and a live image of the person presenting their travel documents.

Israel: Interior ministry wants tourists’ biometrics

Israel to create tourist biometric database? (Ynetnews) According to Interior Ministry proposal, visitors refusing to provide fingerprints will be banned entry.

Pretty soon everyone will be doing this; Ghana already does something similar at the Accra airport. I can’t see why Israel would issue tourists an ID card though . On the one hand, isn’t that what a passport is for? On the other, if they’re collecting biometrics why not use them?

UPDATE II: Remotely-Staffed US-Mexico Border Crossings

FEB. 9, 2012: Self-service U.S.-Mexican border crossing could be replicated (NextGov)

Under the agency’s plan, people carrying passports or other citizenship documents embedded with computer chips will approach kiosks to enter the United States. The kiosks will be mounted with digital scanners connected to a staffed entry point in El Paso, Texas, where CBP officers will see them through one-way video cameras and check their IDs. When near the scanner, the microchip, a radio frequency identification transmitter, signals a remote database to draw up biographical records and a photo of the document-holder. Officers then can confirm that the person in the database is the person on the camera.

AUG. 6, 2012
UPDATE:It looks like they’re installing something along these lines in Nogales, Arizona.

Avatar Officer Installed at Arizona-Mexico Border Station (Yahoo)

[Customs and Border Protection] CBP is actually installing an updated version of the University of Arizona’s kiosk—the original was tested at the station from December to March—to determine its ability to help enroll applicants in its Trusted Traveler programs at the Mexican border. The programs, also available for airline passengers, were created after 9/11 at various ports of entry into the U.S. to expedite preapproved, low-risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks. All Trusted Traveler applicants must voluntarily undergo a background check against criminal, law-enforcement, customs, immigration, agriculture and terrorist databases. The process also includes biometric fingerprint checks and an interview with a CBP officer.

In Nogales, human CBP officers monitor the avatar-administered pilot-test interviews, which provide them with automated feedback uploaded wirelessly to an iPad tablet that these officers can use to conduct follow-up interviews.

AUG. 15, 2012
UPDATE II:
This robot border officer knows when you lie (Channel 3000)

Applicants for the program must undergo an interview and biometric fingerprinting to be eligible for the program — both of which can be performed by the AVATAR kiosk.

Derrick said the kiosk could process travelers in five minutes.

Travelers simply stand in front of the unit — which “looks like an ATM on steroids,” according to Derrick — and respond to yes/no questions asked in Spanish or English. “You speak to it like you speak to a person,” he said.

Their answers are monitored, with any unusual physiological responses passed on to “a human field agent” who then subjects them to “a more careful interview process,” said CBP spokesman Bill Brooks.

Unusual responses were not a sure sign of a lie, said Derrick. “There might be valid reasons for it beyond deception.”

The computer uses three sensors to assess physiological responses: a microphone, which monitors vocal quality, pitch and frequency; an infrared camera, which looks at pupil dilation and where the eyes focus; and a high-definition camera recording facial expressions.

Much more at the link.

It looks like this is much more than a tele-presence or biometric document authentication app. If this article is accurate, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is actually piloting an automated deception detector in the field and has settled upon voice as the most important thing to measure.

Daily Mail Calls for More Facial Recognition Technology at Borders?

The UK Daily Mail calls for more facial recognition technology at borders, but it is pretty hard to decode that from the article, as published.

The Daily Mail recently published an article about “facial recognition” stating that because humans can be confused while comparing a neutrally-posed facial photo to the live subject standing before them, it follows that “facial recognition technology needs to be upgraded.”

I agree, with a caveat. I’m all for adopting facial recognition technology (SecurLinx does great work in this field). The upgrading will come later.

The article makes a bit of a hash of the problem by muddling the very different processes by which humans and biometric facial recognition technologies do what they do to process visual inputs and, upon a quick read, takes a psychological study of how humans process visual information related to the faces of other people and assumes that those findings apply perfectly to technological biometric facial recognition systems. They don’t.

The observations of Rob Jenkins, Glasgow University Psychologist, actually argue for the increased use of facial recognition technology as currently on offer as an aide to human border agents along the lines advanced in an earlier post (Facial Recognition vs Human) & (Facial Recognition + Human).

A technology assisted human should outperform both a stand-alone technology and unaided humans.

On another note, the psychology surrounding how people (and wasps!) recognize faces is very interesting. The paper by Dr. Jenkins that seems to have the most bearing on facial recognition technology can be read here [pdf].

The paper is a little more skeptical of facial recognition technology than is warranted because the authors envision facial recognition technology as essentially aspiring to be a poor replication of the fallible neurological process rather than an augmentation of what humans do by coming at the problem from a completely different angle.

We suggest that a major attraction of using facial appearance to establish identity is that we accept it can be done in principle. In fact, we experience practical success every day because the system that has solved it is the human brain. The proliferation of ‘biologically inspired’ approaches to automatic face recognition reflects the willingness of computer engineers to model the brain’s success. Yet, psychological studies have shown that human expertise in face identification is much more narrow than is often assumed. Moreover, the process that most automatic systems attempt to model lies outside 1672 R. Jenkins & A. M. Burton Review. Stable face representations. From this perspective, disappointment in machine systems is inevitable, as they model a process that fails. Human limitations in face identification are not widely appreciated even within cognitive psychology, and seldom penetrate cognate fields in engineering and law. In §3, we offer an overview of the most pertinent limitations. For this purpose, we focus specifically on evidence from face matching tasks, as these directly address a problem that is common to security and forensic applications.

A Hundred Pounds of Cocaine Seized Despite Several Security Breaches

Convicted drug smuggler breached security 7 times (Richmond Review)

Ironically, his unauthorized access to the customs hall was recorded by a new technology introduced the same year Von Holtum was caught, and designed to sound alarm bells.

Billed in January of 2007 by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority as “the world’s first dual biometric airport identification program for non-passengers acccessing restricted areas of the airport,” the RAIC (Restricted Area Identity Card) program was designed to detect and record the comings and goings of airport personnel, including whenever they enter restricted zones.

Security systems can be complex, especially in places like airports. For them to work, they have to bee well planned and someone has to be paying attention to them. In this case, it looks like there wasn’t a mechanism in place to bring several instances of odd behavior to the attention of officials.

Security technology, however awesome, can’t manage an organization. People have to do that.

On the other hand, security is usually redundant and provided in layers. The hundred-or-so pounds of cocaine, after all, was seized.

Korea & US Link Trusted Traveler Services

Good News For Travelers: Less Time Spent in U.S. Airports (Wall Street Journal – Asia)

Korean travelers heading to U.S. can sit back and relax knowing they now can spend less time waiting to go through immigration after a long-haul flight in a cramped seat.

On Tuesday, South Korea became the third nation after the Netherlands and Canada—and the first in Asia—to sign a reciprocal agreement with the U.S. that allows low-risk, pre-registered visitors to bypass the face-to-face checkpoints and use instead automated immigration kiosks with biometric identification, available at 25 international U.S. airports.

Just a note, since I’ve seen the error repeated elsewhere: Mexican nationals are also eligible to use the Global Entry kiosks as well as to avail themselves of the SENTRI program.

Also, according to this article, six countries have thus far joined the program – Britain, Holland, Qatar, Austria, New Zealand and Japan – while 250,000 American citizens have registered.

Spycraft & Military Intel in a Biometric World

Mission Nearly Impossible (StrategyPage)

The use of biometrics does its job very well keeping out spies, terrorists and saboteurs. The downside is that it also limits the activities of your own spies. This has led to efforts by espionage agencies to get around this “problem.” The espionage organizations will not comment on what, if any, solutions they have come up with. That is to be expected.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has developed tools that enable combat troops to use biometrics on the battlefield.

Read the whole thing.

See also: U.S. Military Departs Iraq, Takes Huge Biometric Database with It

Israel joins US’s Global Entry program

Tens of thousands of Israelis to enjoy expedited clearance in US airports for $100 fee (ynet)

Global Entry is a relatively new program initiated by the US administration which aims to ease the entry of foreign and American citizens to the US. Six countries have thus far joined the program – Britain, Holland, Qatar, Austria, New Zealand and Japan – while 250,000 American citizens have registered.

The program aims to help frequent travelers to the US, usually businessmen, diplomats and relatives of US citizens.

Mexico (SENTRI) and Canada (NEXUS) also have bilateral agreements with the US.

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