TSA Will Expand Facial Recognition Across America
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The Transport Security Administration(TSA) of America will expand facial recognition across America. The TSA is testing facial recognition software in 16 airports to help screen passengers and will be introducing it nationwide next year.

With this new security system, flyers will be able to pass through security checkpoints by scanning a copy of a government-issued ID and standing in front of the camera. The equipment takes a photo of the flyer’s face and checks whether it matches their driver’s license. TSA agents are not needed to manually check IDs, which reduces wait times at security screening stations. However, the staff is on standby for final verification.

Earlier research suggests facial recognition algorithms can be inaccurate in identifying women and people with dark skin. This may lead to travelers being singled out for further investigations due to the inaccuracy of the technology.

The TSA is exploring the use of facial identification to automate identity verification at airport security. They believe that it’s important to have a biometric solution that can work for everyone, considering the diversity of travelers. Biometric technology has the potential to improve security effectiveness and increase efficiency at TSA checkpoints. Meanwhile, thanks to facial identification, passengers will have an easier time going through security and will be more satisfied with the experience as well.

Jason Lim, a TSA official helping to run the CAT-2 pilot program said, “Those who do not feel comfortable will still have to present their ID — but they can tell the officer that they do not want their photo taken, and the officer will turn off the live camera.” 

As some of these protocols are enforced on more travelers, many will probably just follow the automated system because it’s likely to be faster and easier than other procedures. Privacy experts believe that the creation of facial recognition databases increases the risk of sensitive information being leaked or accessed by bad actors.

According to TSA, the live photos and digital IDs analyzed by the CAT-2 units will not be kept. The data will be encrypted and passed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate to assess, who will delete the images within two years.

The TSA said, “Outside of the evaluation periods during normal operations, each passenger’s live photo and the personally identifiable information collected from their digital ID will be overwritten when the next passenger is scanned.”

The TAS has been testing a facial recognition system at 16 domestic airports, including some of the busiest international hubs in Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver. The agency hopes to roll out the system nationwide next year.

According to Lim, the tech is a “security enhancement” and is better at authenticating passengers’ identities than human agents manually inspecting documents. 

He further added, “We are so far very satisfied with the performance of the machine’s ability to conduct facial recognition accurately.” 

Although the TSA has yet to release performance data for its CAT-2 systems, it does claim that the machines have a very low rate of false positives and true negatives.

The TSA, however, has yet to prove the performance of its CAT-2 systems and hasn’t released any data on the machine’s rate of true negative or false positive face matches. 

“These pilots are entirely voluntary and there has not been a determination to release data at this point, nor to implement this operationally beyond the pilot stage. While we are informed the preliminary results are encouraging, TSA continues to monitor these pilots to ensure there is no inherent bias in the technology,” the spokesperson told us.

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