HOUSTON – Certain international travelers leaving George Bush Intercontinental Airport are going through an extra security check before boarding their plane.
IAH is now one of seven airports in the country using facial-recognition cameras to check passengers who are leaving the country.
The new technology is part of a growing pilot project run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP.
The pilot program began in June 2016 at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. In 2004, Congress tasked CBP with taking biometric information from travelers leaving and entering the country.
“In 2004, we began taking fingerprints and as technology has evolved, we’ve evolved with it,” said Alicia Tellez, chief CBP officer.
The airlines give CBP a passenger manifest, which includes passport photos. As travelers are getting ready to board, the cameras snap their picture, then compare that picture to the one in the manifest to make sure the person getting on the plane is the same one on the passport.
“This is an extra layer of information and this system does work with all our other databases,” Tellez said.
That means the extra check is also looking for those who may be wanted and are trying to sneak out of the country.
Since this is a pilot program, the United Airlines flight from Houston to Tokyo is the only one using the camera for now.
Customs has deployed this technology at other airports and plans to expand this type of check for those leaving the United States.
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