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Project October 9, 2019

The Future of U.S. Travel Goes South

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A sign explains how photos of border crossers are being used. Image by Kathleen Flynn. United States, 2019.
A sign explains how photos of border crossers are being used. Image by Kathleen Flynn. United States, 2019.

For more than a decade, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been testing the viability of biometric technology on travelers entering and leaving the country. Now, under the Trump Administration, the number of pilot projects along the Southern border is increasing—leading to fears that such measures may soon pose a real threat to the average American's privacy and civil rights.

The pilots have faced criticism from advocacy groups like the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the ACLU who have raised concerns about the invasiveness of the biometric tracking of physical characteristics such as facial features, fingerprints, DNA, retinas and others.

Nevertheless, CBP is moving forward with the program and in a recent regulatory agenda revealed plans to propose that U.S. citizens be required to have their photos taken as foreign nationals are currently. 

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