Big Brother starts to work in real-time

US Customs and Border Protection officers in Washington Dulles International Airport have intercepted an imposter posing as a French Citizen using Facial Comparison Biometrics technology.

Only after three days of using the technology, it has proved a success. Using new facial comparison biometric technology while conducting primary inspections, a CBP officer was able to identify 26-year-old man traveling from Sao Paulo, Brazil, using documentation which did not belong to him.

“Facial recognition technology is an important step forward for CBP in protecting the United States from all types of threats,” said Casey Durst, CBPss Director of the Baltimore Field Office.

“Terrorists and criminals continually look for creative methods to enter the U.S. including using stolen genuine documents. The new facial recognition technology virtually eliminates the ability for someone to use a genuine document that was issued to someone else.”

While the technology might work, perhaps a concern for organizations making use of facial recognition software is its ability to work in real-time. Unlocking smartphones might be the most common application of the software right now, but there will certainly be organizations in the world watching the progress for uses such as payments or general identification. This is an example of, firstly, the technology actually working properly, and secondly, working efficiently.

Of course, this is not the first story we have seen regarding the use of facial recognition software by law enforcement officials. The South Wales Police Force was another to test out applications during the 2016 UEFA Champions League final. This example however was less of a success. Making use of NEC’s Neoface software, the South Wales Police Force registered just 8% accuracy when identifying suspect individuals. This of course was a more complicated use of the technology, applying the software to CCTV feeds, but certainly a set-back.

Although the success of the technology in Washington is certainly an example of the technology working, the success ratio has not been released. Perhaps more important than knowing the technology works, we need to know how often it doesn’t. For real-world applications, the success rate of the technology needs to be almost perfect before it should be considered for rollout. It is a negative way to look at progress, but failure is much more significant than success here.

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