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U.S. Government to Roll Out Facial Recognition Software in Most Airports in Four Years



The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is planning to implement biometric exit technology in almost all commercial airports in the next four years.

This technology rollout was outlined in the department’s “Fiscal Year 2018 Entry/Exit Overstay Report.” It states that in the next four years, CBP hopes to use airlines/tsa-to-expand-biometrics-technology-to-airport-security.html” target=”_self” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>biometric exit technology on more than 97 percent of commercial air travelers departing from the U.S.with the intent of catching people who have overstayed their visa.

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As of September 2018, airlines/biometric-facial-recognition-technology-piloted-at-lax.html” target=”_self” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>there were only 15 U.S. airports with this facial-recognition technology, and of those 15 airports, this technology has been used on over two million passengers with 7,000 of those travelers found to have overstayed their visa.

Currently, CBP checks visas via biographic manifest data or their name and passport number at most airports. However, they believe the biometric system would be more efficient, claiming it has a 98 percent match rate. With this match rate, CBP says they’ve received “many commitment letters from airport authorities and/or air carriers supporting biometric exit operations.”

Even though CBP and DHS claim that the data has a 98 percent match rate, some argue that’s not actually the case. Facial recognition technology has consistently been reported not to work very well for people of color, as proven by a test that the ACLU did in 2018 in which the technology incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress and identified them as people who had committed crimes. The false matches were “disproportionately people of color.”

That experiment is backed up by a report by the CAPA-Centre for Aviation, which found that facial recognition software “is not so good at identifying ethnic minorities when most of the subjects used in training the technology were from the majority group.” Glasses, hats, scarves and changes in appearance like facial hair or weight loss or gain can also affect the quality of readings.

Others note that regardless of efficiency, such systems are invasive and violate travelers’ privacy rights.

Regardless of the real concerns surrounding racial bias and privacy rights in connection with biometric exit technology, it seems like CBP will most likely move forward with the technology.

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Emirates Announces Firing Employees Amid the Pandemic



Emirates Airline, the last holdout among the Gulf region‘s three major East-West carriers in retaining its workforce announced on May 31, 2020, that it had fired an undisclosed number of employees, due to the near-shutdown of global air travel amid COVID-19.

The other two—Abu Dhabi’s Etihad and Doha-based Qatar Airways—had already scaled back in terms of staffing as the virus spread, virtually eliminating passenger demand and causing international borders to slam shut.

While Emirates has been applauded during the pandemic for continuing to run repatriation flights around the globe, as well as delivering cargo and critical supplies, it has been dramatically affected by the halting of international passenger travel, just like the rest of the world’s airlines.

In a statement, the company said, “We have endeavored to sustain the current family as is…but have come to the conclusion that we, unfortunately, have to say goodbye to a few of the wonderful people that worked with us.”

Without revealing any particulars of the mass firing, Emirates assured that those being axed from its workforce would be treated, “with fairness and respect.”

ABC News reported that to try and balance some of the immense losses the airline continues to suffer, Dubai’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, injected an undisclosed amount of equity into its operations back in March.

Although the flag carrier, owned by a Dubai sovereign wealth fund, had already reduced its staff members’ pay during the course of the global health crisis.

Meanwhile, Emirates’ home base, Dubai International Airport—typically the world’s busiest in terms of international passenger traffic—has also been running only a fraction of its normal operations.

Dubai, which has positioned itself as a critical hub for the free movement of people, goods and capital from around the globe (all of which the pandemic has disrupted), now depends heavily upon a resumption of activity at its airport.

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