Facial Recognition Technology getting Trial Run from TSA

Cited as effort to speed up process, though skeptics express privacy concern.   May 18, 2023

By Dave Lubach, Executive Editor

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is conducting a pilot project at 16 airports across the country utilizing facial recognition technology at security checkpoints. 

A story from The Associated Press described the process that officials are touting as an effort by TSA to increase security and streamline the checkpoint process as passengers enter the gate area on the way to boarding their flights. The COVID-19 pandemic is another reason for the rising interest in touchless technology as a growing number of people prefer to not hand over documents to strangers. 

While TSA officers would still be present, the new technology allows travelers to put their driver’s license into a slot that can read the card or place a passport on a card reader. The passengers then look into a camera which captures their image and compares it to the ID. Travelers can opt out of the pilot project if they are uncomfortable with the process. 

Privacy advocates and some elected officials have expressed their criticism of the process, penning a letter to the TSA calling to halt the program, citing a risk to civil liberties and privacy rights. 

TSA scans 2.4 million passengers daily according to the article, so speeding up the processing of passengers is an important aspect of the technology change. For those who are concerned about the gathering of information by the agency, an official said that images aren’t compiled into a database and that IDs and photos are deleted, though some data is shared with the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. 

Dave Lubach is the executive editor for the facilities market. 


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