If you’re old enough, you might remember that getting through airports used to be a breeze compared to today’s improved passenger and baggage screening procedures. Back then, you didn’t have to worry about body scanners, passenger and carry-on baggage screening, or the other airport security protocols that are now in place. It’s quite different from the way things are now.
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Prepare for maybe even more security upgrades in the future if the TSA is successful. The Transportation Security Administration is testing its new facial recognition technology at several airports across the country. This technology identifies and verifies individuals on their unique characteristics.
However, some government officials are not satisfied. They are concerned about the risk to civil liberties, the right to privacy, the safety and security of biometric data and racial discrimination. Here’s what we know so far.
How does the technology work?
The TSA uses facial recognition by taking photos of passengers and matching them with the passenger’s ID. Typically, during the security process at a domestic airport, a passenger will hand over their driver’s license and a TSA agent will place the license in a card reader to verify if the ID is real or fake.
With this new process, your ID would still be placed in the card reader and then the TSA agent would take a picture of your face in real time. This photo will be processed to see if it matches the photo on your driver’s license. The agent will then approve the screening once the photo has been verified.
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When asked how the trials are going so far, the TSA said: “TSA has based the tests on scientific rigor and the early results are promising across all demographics with a small sample size, so the TSA expands the sample size for statistical validity.”
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Which airports are currently participating in this trial?
The following airports currently use this facial recognition test on their security lines.
- BWI-Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport
- DAC-Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
- ATL-Hartsfield International Airport
- DFW-Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
- PHX-Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- THE-Denver International Airport
- SLC-Salt Lake City International Airport
- CJS-San Jose Mineta International Airport
- Google Tags-Gulfport Biloxi International Airport
- JAN-Jackson–Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport
- MIA-Miami International Airport
- THE ACE-Harry Reid International Airport
- RELEASED-Los Angeles International Airport
- BOS-Boston Logan International Airport
- DTW-Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
- MCO-Orlando International Airport
- OKAY-Will Rogers World Airport
- ID-Cedar Rapids Airport
- FSO-San Francisco International Airport
- RIC-Richmond International Airport
- BNA-Nashville International Airport
- SEVEN-Luis Munoz Marin International Airport
- SME-Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
- HRT-Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
- CVG-Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
Should I participate in this trial?
No, you are not required to participate. According to the TSA, the test is entirely voluntary and you can opt out of having your photo taken by notifying a Podium Agent at the Travel Document Checker. In my experience, there are no active signs or notices at many TSA screenings advising you that having your face scanned is optional. The TSA also states that it will not cause any delay to the passenger and that he will not suffer any consequences for not participating.
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What does the TSA do with my photo if I participate?
After the TSA takes your photo and verifies your identity, the photo remains only in RAM memory and it is automatically purged as soon as the TSA agent logs off their computer. The computer is also configured to automatically log off after 30 minutes of non-use.
The only time your photo will be retained in the system longer than this period is during a data collection period when the DHS Science and Technology Branch encrypts the photo data for analysis. However, the TSA says there are no personally identifying details in this data and that the department deletes all of its encrypted data within 24 months.
Why are some government leaders concerned about this trial?
The senses. Americans Jeffrey Merkley, Edward Markey, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders collectively wrote a letter to the TSA expressing multiple concerns about this lawsuit.
One of the main concerns is that few people traveling to these participating airports are aware of the lawsuit, and TSA officials have not informed passengers that the lawsuit is voluntary, according to what Senator Merkley says he has. witnessed while at a participating airport. Another concern is that it is unclear how travelers will know they can “opt out” and what the consequences are for travelers if they decide to opt out.
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Their other main concern is the risk of facial recognition technology perpetuating racial bias, as studies have shown that certain racial and ethnic groups, particularly Asians and African Americans, are more likely to be misidentified by the public. technology.
And the final big concern is privacy, as it hasn’t been entirely clear whether the DHS Science and Technology Branch will share the data it collects with other government agencies and what it will do exactly with this data. All we know is that they tell us that everything they collect will be deleted within 24 months.
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What should I do if I am asked to participate?
Remember, whether the TSA agent at the airport tells you or not, you have the right to refuse to take the facial recognition technology test. If you’re not happy with the idea, just let the agent know you won’t be participating, as they can’t penalize you for not wanting to be a part of it.
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Does the idea of the TSA having your facial data make you uncomfortable? Do you think this is a good security measure to use in the future? Let us know by commenting below.
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