Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Erika Jonietz

Face Recognition For Passports Is Error-Prone

Despite warnings that facial-recognition technology is prone to a high rate of error, the U.S. State Department is moving ahead with plans to embed microchips that will allow computer matching of facial characteristics in U.S. passports. Federal researchers, academics, and…

  • August 9, 2004

Despite warnings that facial-recognition technology is prone to a high rate of error, the U.S. State Department is moving ahead with plans to embed microchips that will allow computer matching of facial characteristics in U.S. passports. Federal researchers, academics, and industry experts say the government should use more-reliable fingerprints instead, according to the Washington Post.

Federal researchers who have tested face-recognition technology say its error rate is unacceptably high–up to 50 percent if photographs are taken without proper lighting. Facial recognition has been adopted in part to comply with International Civil Aviation Organization standards, which specify facial recognition as the primary mode of identification on so-called “biometric passports.” U.S. researchers point out that fingerprints, which have a far lower error rate, could be added to the chip without violating the international standard.

The enhanced U.S. passports are scheduled to be issued next spring for people obtaining new or renewed passports.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.