TSA announces “biometrics vision for all commercial aviation travelers”

October 27, 2018 in News by Ken

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Source: papersplease.org

Today the US Transportation Security Administration released a detailed TSA Biometric Roadmap for Aviation Security & the Passenger Experience, making explicit the goal of requiring mug shots (to be used for automated facial recognition and image-based surveillance and control) as a condition of all domestic or international air travel.

This makes explicit the goal that has been apparent, but only implicit, in the activities and statements of both government agencies and airline and airport trade associations.

It’s a terrifyingly totalitarian vision of pervasive surveillance of air travelers at, quite literally and deliberately, every step of their journey, enabled by automated facial recognition and by the seamless collaboration of airlines and airport operators that will help the government surveil their customers in exchange for free use of facial images for their own business purposes and profits.

The  closest contemporary counterpart to what the TSA envisions for the USA is the pervasive surveillance and control of travelers in China through automated facial recognition by the Public Security Bureau.

Automated surveillance of air travelers by the TSA will begin with people who have “voluntarily” provided photos for other purposes such as background checks:

In the near term, TSA will deploy Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) to authenticate the security features of passengers’ ID credentials and allow Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to retrieve passenger pre-screening status in near-real time…. In the future, TSA will be able to use TSA Pre® enrolled facial images for matching…. Moving forward, TSA Pre® will increase its access to and utilization of voluntarily-provided biometric data, including facial images, to modernize the trusted traveler experience for TSA Pre® travelers.

In a press release announcing its roadmap, the TSA says that:

TSA has already begun testing biometrics for TSA Pre® travelers….  As of September 2018, passengers who enroll in TSA Pre® or renew their membership in person are required to provide their photograph. Using applicants’ photographs, TSA will test facial biometric technology in TSA Pre® lanes at select airports once enrollment numbers support this testing.

The roadmap released today is dated September 2018. We’ve already begun to receive reports suggesting that the TSA may already be using automated facial recognition — without explicit notice or any obvious way to opt out — in “TSA Pre-Check” lanes at checkpoints at some airports. If you see something, say something: Ask whether facial images are being collected, by whom, for what purposes, and subject to what if any option to opt out.

In its next stage, the TSA Biometrics Roadmap envisions expanding automated facial image surveillance to include photos from drivers licenses and state ID cards:

Additionally, TSA will work with DHS and other stakeholders to ensure mobile drivers’ licenses (mDL) are REAL ID compliant and explore their acceptance at aviation security touchpoints across the passenger experience. Several state issuance authorities have started to securely provision mDL onto driver’s mobile devices in addition to issuing a physical license. These solutions may include biometric data that TSA could leverage for identity verification…. TSA will explore opportunities to more effectively use existing information within DHS systems including DHS databases (e.g., IDENT/HART), State Department passport photos, and solutions that may broker verification touchpoints between federal and state systems.