TSA going hogwild with facial recognition is going about as well as you’d expect, “but you can opt out”.
Since folks asked what happens whenever I opt out of facial recognition, I documented it for you while going through US border patrol.
Coming out of the flight there was a row of kiosks for facial biometric capture. There were no people. Just kiosks. So I kept walking.
The next point of contact was the passport agents at their desks. Agent A asked me, “Did you take your photo at the kiosk?” I said, “No, I am opting out of biometric facial recognition.” And the agent asked, “Why?”
And I said, “Because I don’t like it.” And the agent said, “Wait here,” and then let the people behind me through.
After a bit of this punitive behavior, agent A sent me to agent B.
Agent B said, “Why? Why don’t you want to do it?” And I said, “Because I don’t want it. I want to opt out.” He paused and twisted his face.
Then he pointed at a sign and said, “Read that.”
The sign read: “U.S. citizens and select foreign nationals who are not required to provide biometrics and who wish to opt out of the new facial biometric process may simply notify a CBP officer, request a manual document check, and proceed with processing consistent with existing requirements for entry into the United States.”
It’s almost as if everyone entirely forgot how to do a manual check, which was being used for everyone until about a year ago.
And then agent B again said, “So you want to opt out?” Again I said, “Yes, I want to opt out.” And then he said, “Why?” And I said, “Because I don’t like my image being taken over and over.” And then he shook his head.
He said, “You know we already have your photo right?” And I said, “Yes, but I don’t like my biometrics continuously being captured.”
Then he said “Okay well I have to call someone.” And he just sat there looking very upset.
Then agent C arrived at the adjoining desk to begin work. And agent B said, pointing at me, “She doesn’t want to do the face scan. Which manager do I call?”
Agent C then said, “You don’t have to call anyone. Just look at her face and then compare it to her passport photo.”
And I said, “Yes, how it used to be done just a year ago.”
And agent B said, “You’re my first opt out.”
Then agent C said, you just have to enter on the screen why she doesn’t want it.” So again, I said, “I don’t like the repetitive image capture.”
Agent B said, “You’re losing the advantages of going through quickly.” I said, “That’s fine.” He shook his head.
Finally, after a lot of fumbling on their end, I was able to proceed through.
Even though it says, I can “simply notify a CBP officer,” it is not simple at all.
Opting out of facial recognition should be as easy as it is to opt in. The fact that it’s not tells you an immense amount.
Make it as hard as possible for anyone to take your very personal data.
Normalize opting out so it is never taken for granted.
Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.
Almost exactly a copy of one of the times I opted out.