Customs and Border Protection is considering outfitting Border Patrol with controversial facial recognition technology deployed through their body cameras, according to a new federal filing.
The agency has published a Request for Information from potential vendors on expanding its network of officer-worn body cameras, specifically to record interactions with the public—both U.S. and foreign citizens—in areas fixed cameras may not reach.
Within that request, the agency is soliciting information on biometric identity verification: the “ability to run facial recognition against a database of preexisting images” and the “ability to compare a source document (e.g., identification provided) against the real-time image of the person.”
Agents would be able to toggle the cameras on and off, according to the request. CBP’s request includes a request for information on camera durability, cloud storage for the footage, information security, redaction of personal information, and other technical specifications.
Border Patrol agents do not currently wear body cameras. A bill introduced in the House of Representatives in February would require them to do so. The agency tested them last year at nine locations.
Facial recognition used on footage taken by law enforcement has proven controversial in the past. California banned the use of facial recognition software on video from police body cameras on Oct. 8. Several cities around the country have banned its use by municipal authorities altogether.
CBP, meanwhile, has expanded its use of facial recognition in other areas. The agency already uses the technology to identify and track travelers at more than a dozen international airports in the U.S., at checkpoints along the U.S.-Mexico border, and at major ports.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.