The Biden administration is reportedly using controversial facial recognition technology and other invasive surveillance tools to process the thousands of migrants at the US-Mexico border.
US Customs and Border Protection has released an app called “CBP One” that uses facial recognition technology to compare photos of migrants with various refugee databases, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
In addition to tracking faces, the app uses geolocation and cloud technology to create databases of personal data that law enforcement agencies can access for up to 75 years.
Civil liberties and privacy experts are warning about the amount of data the app collects.
“CBP’s use of face recognition poses enormous risks to privacy and is another step down a dangerous path,” American Civil Liberties Union senior national security attorney Ashley Gorski said. “Whenever the government acquires a person’s faceprint, it creates a risk of persistent surveillance, where the government could identify and track people’s movements without their knowledge.”
International organizations, including the United Nations refugee office, have reportedly agreed to use the CBP One app. These organizations reportedly use the app to identify migrants seeking asylum who were forced to remain in Mexico under Trump administration policies. The organizations submit migrants’ personal data — including photographs and biometric information — to CBP, which then uses facial recognition to verify the information, the Times reported.
Despite the privacy concerns raised by the ACLU, a CBP spokesperson told the Times that the agency is “committed to protecting all sensitive information in its possession.”
Chris McGrath of the United Nations refugee office expanded on the agency’s efforts, saying, “The system is currently only used by UNHCR in exceptional cases – and only with the individual’s full informed consent – to retrieve a misplaced ‘A-number’ by using a photo to match with data already collected by the US government.”
“Of the over 17,000 individuals who have registered with UNHCR for the MPP re-entry program, fewer than 50 individuals have provided a photo via CBP-One,” McGrath said.