Next time you're at airport security prepare yourself to stare directly into the camera. Transportation Security Administration quietly tests controversial facial recognition technologies at airports across the country.
The TSA said that 16 airports have cameras at their check-in kiosks. These include Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Reagan National Airport near Washington and those in Atlanta, Boston Dallas, Denver, Detroit Las Vegas, Los Angeles Miami, Orlando Phoenix, Salt Lake City and San Jose. Passengers can insert a government-issued photo ID into the camera and facial recognition software will determine if it matches.
What to expect from airports that use this new technology
The traveler inserts their driver's licence into the slot or places their passport photo on a reader. They then look into a camera that is about the same size as an iPad. The screen captures and compares their photo to their ID. The technology checks to see if the person at the airport matches the ID that they are presenting, and also if the identification is real. The TSA agent is still present and signs off the screening. -AP
"We are trying to help the officers determine that you're who you say you are," said Jason Lim during a recent demo of the technology at BWI.
The TSA stated that the pilot test was voluntary and passengers could opt out. Face recognition technology has been criticized by critics. For example, five senators (four Democrats plus an Independent) sent a February letter to the TSA asking that the pilot test stop immediately.
The senators stated that "increasing biometric surveillance by the federal government poses a threat to civil liberties as well as privacy rights."
The letter continues:
We are concerned that authorized private companies or unauthorised bad actors could have access to biometric data of Americans.
As government agencies expand their database of identifying photos, hackers and cybercriminals will find it more appealing to target large databases.
Meg Foster is a justice fellow with Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology. She worries that, even though TSA claims it doesn't store biometric data but collects it, "What if this changes in the future?"
Jeramie Scott, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center said that although the TSA facial-recognition kiosks are currently being tested, it may only be a matter time before they become a permanent fixture at the checkpoints.
The US is a first world country but it offers third-world protections to its citizens. There's an
Increasing number of government agencies
That want your biometric information Even if you want to know your biometric data.
The IRS wants to see your face