The Department of Homeland Security is hard at work thinking of ways to make traveling miserable and invasive for the rest of us. And chances are good they aren't planning to stop with travelers.
They want to take the photographs of every person leaving and entering the US and store this biometric information in their databases. So whether you're an American citizen or not, they'd like to invade your privacy for no reason other than you're traveling outside the country.
This law, if passed, is purported to aid in enforcing visa deadlines for foreign travelers who overstay.
Don't worry. The TSA just wants to enhance "aviation security and the passenger experience."
But biometric scanning is already used for foreign travelers.
The thing is, foreign travelers entering the United States must already submit to being photographed, fingerprinted, and scanned.
Federal law requires Homeland Security to put into place a system to use biometrics to confirm the identity of international travelers. Government officials have made no secret of their desire to expand the use of biometrics, which they say could identify potential terrorists and prevent fraudulent use of travel documents. (source)
This leads to the question of why on earth Americans "need" to also be scanned.
What reasons are they giving for photographing Americans, too?
The DHS says that the new plan "would be part of a broader system to track travelers as they enter and exit the United States."
The Trump administration contends in its regulatory agenda that the face scan requirement will combat the fraudulent use of U.S. travel documents and aid the identification of criminals and suspected terrorists. (source)
Biometric systems are already being rolled out. We reported months ago that the Atlanta airport had scanning devices set up (just to help you with speedy check-in, of course) although travelers could opt-out.
When I flew into the United States last spring after taking Selco's course in Bosnia, they had biometric scanning at Customs in the Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. The agent said to me, "Put your face right here and don't blink" as she pointed to a contraption that looked like something you'd see in an optometrist's office.
"What is this?" I asked, holding up the line.
"It's just an iris scan, ma'am. Put your face up to the device," she answered with a barely concealed eye roll.