San Jose airport 1st on West Coast to use facial recognition tech for international passengers

San Jose International Airport on Monday became the first airport on the West Coast to use facial recognition technology for all international flights that scans a person's eyes and nose against photos used when passengers took for their passports.

The facial biometrics system has been used since June for arriving international passengers and will be used starting this fall, for all departing international travelers. Facial recognition uses a digital image or a video capture to verify or identify a person.

Over a four-week stretch after the system was launched at San Jose airport, average processing times for arriving international travelers had dropped from 29 minutes to 20 minutes,  according to John Wagner, of Customs and Border Protection.

Rikako Otomo said she thought the system was smoother and faster. 

“The use of biometrics technology will help cut down wait times and enhance the overall experience for our international travelers,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said Monday.

However, the ACLU and other civil rights groups are critical of most all facial recognition technology, which they say can be used for general surveillance in combination with public video cameras. "The biggest danger is that this technology will be used for general, suspicionless surveillance systems," the ACLU said on its blog.