NYC tourists encounter face scan technology

? As visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island board a ferry from Manhattan, a new surveillance system is taking their pictures and comparing them to a database of terror suspects compiled by the federal government.

The system was installed just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, days after the FBI said it had received uncorroborated information that terrorists had threatened New York and some of its landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty.

“We’re going to look at the facial recognition technology to see if it can be expanded for use in other parts of the city,” Gov. George Pataki said on Saturday during a visit to the statue with his family.

“People are still coming to New York City, to the Statue of Liberty, from around our country and around our world because they appreciate that this is a secure, safe and free city,” he said.

The facial recognition technology, provided by Visionics, of Jersey City, N.J., already is used in some airports and government buildings.

Mustafa Koita, a manager for Visionics, said the system searches 1 million images per second.

Several cameras at varying heights snapped tourists’ photographs just before they walked through a security checkpoint to board a ferry to the statue and Ellis Island, both operated by the National Park Service.

The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the system, calling it “ineffective” and “an insult to the American people.”