DHS Wants MANDATORY Photographs of American Citizens

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Build a Better Pantry on a Budget online course

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.

The latest?

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.

“I don’t consent to sharing my biometric data,” I replied, expecting at any moment to be escorted away and cavity-searched. Instead, she sighed deeply, scanned my passport, and waved me through the line.

However, if this new law passes, there will not be an option to opt-out.

Privacy advocates are not happy about this.

The ACLU is leading the charge against this newest invasion of privacy. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project wrote an excellent must-read essay resoundingly criticizing the move.

Having “your face as your passport” might be very convenient when you’re at a government checkpoint. But we don’t want to have to “present our passport” at every turn in American society, including walking down the sidewalk. If we build a system that turns our faces into passports that anyone can scan and store at any time, that’s exactly what’s likely to happen.

The TSA tries to argue that facial recognition has already been normalized thanks to technologies such as the iPhone X. But those who want to deploy controversial and invasive technologies are always quick to declare them “normalized” — and it is far too early to conclude that people will approve of these technologies. As I have argued before, people will always know the difference between facial recognition that is used by them and facial recognition that is used on them…

In short, the TSA’s desire to go all-in on airport biometrics represents an enormous further investment in a misguided approach to airline security that paves the way for future expansions in the collection and use of personal data on passengers — including insidious new forms of threat scores, security rankings, blacklists, whitelists, etc. — all without necessarily improving security…

…Identity-based security will increasingly have negative consequences, and pervasive facial recognition is both one of those consequences and a way of opening the door to others. (source)

In other words, we’re on the slipperiest of slippery slopes. For those of you who object to flying, don’t expect this invasive technology to stop at airports.

The government promises to delete your photos.

I guess we shouldn’t worry. After all, the DHS promises your photos will be deleted after 12 hours.

A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of Homeland Security, said there would be a chance for the public to comment on any change in regulations.

In a November 2018 report, Homeland Security said facial recognition is the best biometric approach at borders because it can be done quickly and “with a high degree of accuracy.” The agency said privacy risks “are mostly mitigated.” Photos used to match Americans to their identities are deleted within 12 hours, according to the report. (source)

At least the risks are “mostly mitigated.”

Of course if your photos are deleted after twelve hours, how are those same photos used to confirm it’s really you when you leave or return? I don’t know about you, but when I leave to or return from a vacation, I’m generally gone for more than twelve hours.

As for a refresher on the government’s promises:

Jay Stanley, a policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the government has told the public and Congress repeatedly that American citizens would be exempt from mandatory biometric screening.

“This new notice suggests that the government is reneging on what was already an insufficient promise,” Stanley said in a statement. “Travelers, including U.S. citizens, should not have to submit to invasive biometric scans simply as a condition of exercising their constitutional right to travel.” (source)

Don’t forget the government’s track record on protecting private information.

The US government has had numerous breaches in protecting personal information.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said Tuesday he will introduce legislation to block the plan and prohibit U.S. citizens from being forced to provide facial-recognition information. He said a recent data breach at Customs and Border Protection shows that Homeland Security can’t be trusted with the information. (source)

There was also the data breach that exposed the personal information of 21.5 million federal employees and the Obamacare data breach that compromised the medical privacy of 75,000 people. In fact, there have been tons of breaches. A list from Digital Guardian notes the ten biggest GOVERNMENT data breaches of all time:

  • 10. State of Texas: 3.5 Million Affected (April 2011)
  • 9. South Carolina Department of Revenue: 3.6 Million Affected (October 2012)
  • 8. Tricare: 4.9 Million Affected (September 2011)
  • 7. Georgia Secretary of State Office: 6.2 Million Affected (November 2015)
  • 6. Office of the Texas Attorney General: 6.5 Million Affected (April 2012)
  • 5. Virginia Department of Health Professions: 8.3 Million Affected (May 2009)
  • 4. U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM): 21.5 Million (June 2015)
  • 3. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: 26.5 Million Affected (May 2006)
  • 2. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): 76 Million Affected (October 2009)
  • 1. U.S. Voter Database: 191 Million Affected (December 2015)

So don’t worry, I’m sure your biometric information and photos will be perfectly safe with the Department of Homeland Security. Because remember, the problems are “mostly mitigated.”

It won’t be long before facial recognition is everywhere.

We’re getting to the point of no return with regard to privacy. We’re so incredibly close to a Chinese-style social credit system that it’s terrifying.

Technology is being advanced at a rapid clip and ways to defeat that technology – not because you have something to hide but because it is your natural human right not to be constantly surveilled – simply can’t keep up.

We’ve got Amazon’s creepy doorbell harvesting facial recognition data from everyone in the neighborhood. We’ve got the HART database that catalogs your face, your voice, your scars, and your tattoos then uploads it to Amazon. (There seems to be a bit of a pattern with Amazon, don’t you think?) And don’t forget the unholy alliance between those DNA sites and facial recognition technology.

As well, don’t forget about the rise of Real ID drivers’ licenses. In many states, you can’t even enter a federal building without one. Don’t be surprised when they become mandatory instead of optional.

This isn’t something that only affects travelers.

A lot of people will read this and say, “That’s why I don’t fly anymore.” But that doesn’t make you safe. The same technology will be coming for you, too.

It reminds me of that quote from Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

This is something that affects every American.

What do you think about the expansion of facial recognition technology?

Are you concerned about this rapid expansion? What do you think is next? Do you have any thoughts about ways to protect yourself from some of the invasive technology? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Out in public,facial recognition can be foiled with face paint camouflage as you see on the faces of our men and women in the military and in the movies.You can also cover your face with a large bandana,a hat and polarized glasses.You will look strange,but it is effective.

    • It’s also illegal in many States. You could potentially be charged with a felony. If you’re “lucky” enough to be in a State that does allow it, I suppose it’s an option.

      I think the larger question is “Do you really want to live in a world where you’re literally ashamed to show your face?” The way I see it is if they want me, they know where to find me. They always have.

      There’s also the precept of not having an expectation of privacy in any public place to consider. Anonymity is not a Right, nor should it be IMO. It hampers both accountability and justice. And before you reply, corruption of the justice system is a totally different subject.

      • You could always take up make-up and disguise as a hobby and use it when you go out, though you may need a number of different Driver’s Licenses to go with them or just two particular faces you.
        Just a thought to keep the Govt on their toes.

  • Land Of The Monitored, Home Of The Feared

    It’s odd, the NSA records absolutely everything on the internet but they can’t stop cyberthieves and cyberstalkers.

    “Homeland” Security is unable to stop the influx of millions of people.

    DEA can confiscate your cash, but we’re drowning in drugs.

    The Federal Bureau Of Prisons couldn’t keep Jeffery Epstein alive in one of the most secure facilities in America.

    We basically receive no benefit whatsoever from all this big brother bulls**t.

    The idiot on Fox And Friends was gushing about the ‘benefits’ of preclearing through US Customs using Clear: “you just scan your Iris and you’re done! Such a Time saver!”

    We really are a nation of sheep to swallow all this, hook, line and sinker.

  • They have been taking your photo at your doctor’s office for years now. I’m not sure, but I think they take a new photo EVERY TIME you check in at a doctor’s office. I mean, why wouldn’t they? I don’t know if the quality of the photo is good enough for facial recognition or not. If not today, one day it will be. I can’t stop going to the doctor.

    • The fact is that we’ve all been monitored and observed practically from the moment we were conceived…by your doctors, by your parents, by your spouse, by your children, your neighbors, your teachers, your preachers, the people you share the public highways with, fellow patrons in restaurants, theaters, sports arenas, the post office etc. Not to mention the fact that God sees ALL.

      No one is anonymous. Anonymity is a delusion.

      It is only when that information is weaponized and misused that it becomes a problem.

      You seem to have your feet on solid ground on this topic.

    • I’ve heard about a lot of people experiencing this at the doctor’s office. Apparently it’s because of “insurance fraud.” Have you asked if you can opt out? I’m curious if you MUST do it to get care.

      • In one clinic, they did without permission.I complained and the pic was removed.In another they asked and I declined.

      • I have a doctor’s appt in about 10 days. If I don’t forget, I’ll ask if I can opt out. Not real much point now, for me anyway, as I have been to the doctor’s many times since they started doing this, like 2 or 3 years ago maybe.

        I will say this, that of the three clinics I go to, they are all owned by hospitals. 2 clinics for 1 hospital and the other clinic by a different hospital. Maybe it just the hospital owned clinics? These two hospitals have been competing with each other for the last 10 years. They have broken the others clinics and private practice clinics by hiring away the doctors. These hospitals have been on a tear. Probably Obama care related. I haven’t tried to survey clinics. I’ve just been watching the crap going on with my clinics. I think there are still a number of 1 and 2 doctors clinics left. So, maybe they have just been after the bigger clinics.

        Hmmm, I went to a foot doctor for the first time a couple of months ago who is not hospital affiliated. I know this because her clinic is in a shopping center. I pretty sure there was a camera there too.

  • As long as the government in DC keeps pushing for this Orwellian tyranny, the notion that we the people should be afraid of “bad guys” crouching in caves 11,000 miles away, or some stupid war going on between two sides that have hated each other for centuries is flat out crazy.
    We’ve met the real bad guys already. They’re the Deep State, and they are reckless and unaccountable and they are right here in America.

    • You’re right on point with identifying the real problem. It’s the unelected Deep State storing the data that is the real and only concern in all of this. If they were pure as the driven snow, or even just perceived to be so, this would be a non issue.

      • Invasions of privacy are never a non-issue, no matter why the information is collected or who does the collecting. Constant surveillance is just an invisible cage. Does it matter what the motives of our captors are if we aren’t free?

        And if that isn’t enough of a reason, how about this?

        The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

        • The Patriot Act was a huge, huge mistake. “National Security” is the reason – “we want to keep you safe”. Won’t be long before someone starts comes up with a new definition of secure, as in one that obliterates the true meaning in order to meet some agenda(s).

        • How about the fact that you have no expectation to privacy in a public space. It is not “unreasonable” to assume that the cops would run your license plates. It is neither a “search” nor a “seizure”.

          I’ll go you one better. you have no expectation of privacy on private property…unless it is your own property, and even THAT has caveats.

          And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, we’ve ALL been living in an invisible cage our entire lives. The Fourth Amendment was never intended to be interpreted as a “right to anonymity”.

          Without the ability to identify the guilty, no government or society could function. You’d be living in anarchy, literally living in fear for your life every minute of every day.

          Every store you walk in to has CCTV which films you. Are you saying they have no Right to see whether you are stealing from them or not? Or to use that footage as evidence in court?

          And if the CCTV camera had been working in Jeffery Epstein’s cell, we’d all knew who killed him, wouldn’t we?

          That’s what anonymity leads to every time…murder with impunity. Total loss of accountability.

          One last example here: If you value privacy to the extent you think you do, why do we have to give our email addresses to you in order to participate in a public discussion? And are you not giving up your “right to privacy” voluntarily to run this web site, write your books, and do business in general with the public?

          I understand the necessity of it perfectly. It’s a compromise between lack of control over your own content and fascistic control that would repulse the majority of your target audience (requiring an echo chamber membership).

          So, it turns out that WHY and BY WHOM information is collected IS the primary issue here, and not the fact it is being collected at all.

          I’m no fan of DHS. They are an illegal fascist entity that has no business existing in a free America at all IMO. But the need for intelligence information in an open society is self evident. Someone has to do it or we don’t continue to exist.

          • You don’t have to use a real email address to comment on this site. I wouldn’t 🙂 This is simply part of a comment function of the website. You’ll find them on pretty much all websites. The email address you put in to make a comment is not added to my email list or used by my business in any way.

            You’re correct that I willingly gave up some of my privacy and anonymity to run this website. But it was the best way I could help others and it was my choice to do so.

            On the other, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

        • Who’s being aggressively confrontational now, Daisy? But it’s all about ME, right? Yeah. I get it. I get it from my senile mother I’m caring for too. Old or young, women have issues…and I learn more about it every day.

          You gals get confronted with an opposing view, and you go on auto-attack mode as a defense mechanism. I have no idea if it’s an outgrowth of being abandoned/rejected by a spouse or what, but I sense some radical feminist man hatred bubbling to the surface here.

          What is it that prevents you from discussing an issue from a perspective of logic and reason? We’re both of the same species. There SHOULD be common ground…but I guess that’s too much to hope for.

          You mentioned my “enthusiasm” for your articles, and commenting on them…but decried my “confrontational” demeanor.

          I’m sorry I’m not walking in lock step with you, or anyone else for that matter. As an independent woman, I would have thought you’d have found my individual perspective an affirmation of your own distinct personality. But what I see is that you’re just another human looking for justification for their own beliefs in the comment section.

          I need no such reassurance from others for my beliefs. The toadies here that goose step in solidarity to some imagined feminist ideal do not intimidate me, nor do your “friends” you warn me of offending. I suffer from no illusions of perfection. I’m as fallible as the worst here. Hell…I may BE the worst here for all I know. Others would tell you so.

          I simply think that if you’re going to aspire to intellectual honesty, you should accord me the same consideration you give yourself. Largely, to this point in time, you have…but I see where this is going, and we both know where it ends.

          You don’t have what it takes to have your preconceptions of the world challenged in public…especially when you control the venue. Been there, done that.

          Prove me wrong!

          *I fully expect this to be my last post allowed…and it doesn’t bother me if it is.

          • You’re making this about the fact that I’m a woman? I guess if all else fails, blame it on my uterus. It’s interesting that *all* women seem to have issues with you. But I’m sure it’s them, not you.

            I was incredibly polite considering your snide comments about my article. To summarize, what I said was to stop being insulting and perhaps people would pay more attention to your opinions.

            I don’t need to prove anything. You are proving plenty all by yourself.

            • “Agreeing to disagree” is now “. . . being aggressively confrontational . . .??”

              Agreeing to disagree is one of the possibly last remaining civil and respectful ways left on the internet to say, “I respectfully disagree with you.” And leave it at that.

              Daisy a man-hating feminist?
              I have read a lot of Daisy’s articles, her posts to others comments. Man-hating feminist does not come to mind. I have seen her have to hold her own against a few, but I cannot recall at anytime the question of ones sex playing a role in the argument . . . till now.

          • Charles, your mother called. She said she’s going to change the password on the router if you keep calling her senile. Oh – and dinner’s ready.

    • Without a doubt it will be back. There is a legitimate need for it in today’s society. That it will be misused, abused and weaponized against us is also not in question. That’s what social credit scoring is all about. The tech is nothing but a tool, like a gun.

      Give a Patriot a gun and you get Liberty.

      Give a Commie or a Nazi a gun and you get genocide and tyranny.

      Neither of those outcomes can be credited to the gun.

      The problem is our Government is overrun with Commies, Nazis and amoral criminals of every stripe!
      Voting isn’t going to fix this. Voting is how we GOT this.

      America needs an enema.

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