The New Permanent Normal: DHS’s Facial/Iris Recognition Can ID Airline Passengers Wearing Masks

It is official, unless airline passengers are willing to wear motorcycle helmets or Daft Punk style masks, the Feds can use facial and Iris recognition to identify nearly everyone.
According to an S & T press release, a pilot program run by DHS proves they can use facial/Iris recognition to identify airline passengers.

“The in-person rally, held at the Maryland Test Facility (MdTF), included 10 days of human testing during which six face and/or iris acquisition systems and 13 matching algorithms were tested with help from 582 diverse test volunteers representing 60 countries.”

What is DHS’s so-called motivation to ID everyone?

According to their “Ongoing Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT): Face recognition accuracy with  masks using pre-COVID-19 algorithms” report, their motivation to ID everyone was inspired by COVID-19.

“Inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic response, the widespread requirement that people wear protective face masks in public places has driven a need to understand how cooperative face recognition technology deals with occluded faces,  often with just the periocular area and above visible.  An increasing number of research publications have surfaced on the topic of face recognition on people wearing masks along with face-masked research datasets.”

The Feds shameless pandemic motivation to ID airline passengers wearing masks is in full-swing as is evidenced by a recent Federal News Network article.

“Another bit of work that we’ve been doing during the pandemic, obviously, is to look at – can face recognition work when somebody is wearing a protective face mask?” NIST computer scientist and biometrics expert Patrick Grother said

Taken together, these comments essentially mean DHS, TSA and the CBP were having issues ID’ing people wearing masks and needed to find a solution.

According to the NIST report it does not matter if a mask covers most of a persons face or the type[s] of masks people wear.

“We baselined those with unmasked faces with the result that FNMR increases by factors of around 10,  25, and 36 respectively for the median algorithm.”

The NIST is basically saying a face mask only adds a 10%-36% difficulty factor to IDing people.

There is some good news though. The shape and color of masks can confuse facial recognition….

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.