If you’re traveling to an airport in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, and some other US airports, you may notice a new biometric measure being used at TSA to verify your identity.
The TSA is testing facial recognition to see if the technology can improve security and make TSA screening more efficient. After passengers enter their driver’s license or passport into the TSA card reader, their faces are processed by a camera that compares them to their identification picture.
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According to the Associated Press, this facial recognition method ensures that the TSA can verify a person’s identity and confirm that their form of identification is valid. Once the process is complete, the TSA agent approves the screening, and the passenger is on his way.
The TSA says that this facial recognition process is voluntary and that it works, but some US lawmakers do not agree with the implementation of biometric surveillance at domestic airports. US Senators Jeffrey Merkley, Edward Markey, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders wrote an open letter to the TSA to express their concerns.
The TSA says passengers can refuse facial recognition at some US airports, but the five senators are wary that passengers don’t know they can and don’t know how, because because the TSA does not explain it. Senator Merkley said during his experience witnessing passengers using facial recognition scanners, TSA agents did not inform passengers of their rights or options to proceed through security without facial recognition. .
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In their letter, the five senators also discussed the tendency of facial recognition to perpetuate racial discrimination. Facial recognition software is notorious for incorrectly identifying individuals with darker skin. This trap of technological capabilities can have serious consequences for millions of people, which concerns the five legislators.
These senators are also concerned with privacy concerns, as facial recognition lacks transparency, consent, and encryption, making Americans vulnerable to hackers and cybersecurity attacks.
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Moving forward, lawmakers hope the TSA will be more transparent about how they use travelers’ biometric data. They want to know whether biometric data is shared with other government agencies, how the TSA plans to keep that data secure, whether travelers who refuse facial recognition will receive negative consequences. or intimidation, and whether the TSA will release data surrounding the accuracy and number of facial recognition programs.