Boston’s facial recognition fails – in secret

After tampa, the facial recognition system at the boston airport also proves to be a sham. But what is only communicated to the public a year later

Admitting that one as "secure means against the war on terror" advertised technology does not promise what it was expected to do is not easy. As a result, negative results are sometimes kept to themselves – after all, one does not want to unsettle the population. When information is requested, it is necessary to come clean – as is the case now with the facial recognition systems at boston airport.

On 25.10.In 2001, a little more than a month after the "9/11", usa today announced it:

Boston airport to use face-recognition system

Logan airport in boston was already famous at the time as a "of the" airport where the assassins had booked their tickets. All the more reason to now put into operation the facial recognition software that would compare the faces of checking-in travelers with the faces in a database and sound the alarm if the comparison revealed that it was a "alleged terrorists" acted. By december 2001, usa today says, facial recognition should be up and running and providing security.

Already on 02.11.2001, there was a report, also on usa today, that the american civil liberties union had figured out how to trick facial recognition software. "Sunglasses, a hat, a smile… Already the "alleged terrorist" no longer recognized." but it wasn’t just that the terrorist, if he wanted to board, could do so that was the problem, said stephen brown of the aclu rhode island. It is also a problem that completely innocent people are being used as a "false positives" could end up in the mills of facial recognition. The company behind the software appeased, noting that the software could track criminals without violating any constitutional rights.

The aclu saw this quite differently. For them, facial recognition guaranteed neither security nor freedom. She saw it more as a tool to spy on the population. Those who really see facial recognition as an effective law enforcement tool are probably connected to one of the manufacturers who wants to sell this very technology to the government.

And in july 2002 "the register" already devastating over the attempt to kill terrorists by means of the "photographic ouja boards" . The system, according to the register, had two problems: if you set it too precisely, it would set off alarms for cats and dogs; if you set it too imprecisely, any terrorist could only escape the system by wearing sunglasses. The manufacturing company naturally defended itself against such biting comments and countered that one now has to look at the monitor every 20 minutes – that is certainly not too much to ensure the safety of america’s airport. And the american people would certainly agree with him.

Today, over 1.5 years after facial recognition at the boston airport to the "normal state" the fact that the asylum application was rejected confirms the view of the aclu (cf. Facial recognition system only made mistakes) in that the software was not even close to being as effective as it was promised to be in 2001, shortly after the attacks on the world trade center. System failed in 96 traps. It was successful in 153 traps. However, if this result was still considered to be approximately positive, it is put into perspective when one takes a closer look at how the results were obtained:

The images of 40 employees were entered into a database, which. These employees now tried to trick the technology in various ways – with the aforementioned success.

A spokesman for the companies involved said the poor performance was due to the process used. In one "1-to-1 method" the success rate was much higher. A "1-to-1 method" means that the appearance of the passport holder is compared with the photo on the passport (analogous to a driver’s license)…)

A spokesman for one of the companies whose system was tried at logan airport says the test was not a fair measure of the technology. Meir kahtan of identix of minnetonka, minn., says the technology is far better suited for "one-to-one" identification, such as comparing photos on passports or driver’s licenses, than random searches of photo databases.

The extent to which such a method would require facial recognition software is not commented on further. However, techniques such as infrared cameras or iris scans are now also being tested. The results regarding logan, which have been available since july 2002, have only now been made available to the aclu after the aclu submitted a request under the freedom of information act. Results as to other techniques being tested by the transportation security administration, which is responsible for the "passenger screening" has not yet been made public.

However, the negative results of the field test at logan airport will have no impact on the plans to introduce facial recognition in october 2004. This was shared by kelly shannong, spokeswoman for the "state department’s consular affairs office" with. As of october 2004, travelers from a total of 27 countries who want to enter the u.S. Will not be allowed to do so if their passport photos are not compatible with facial recognition software – no matter how effective it is.