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TSA’s facial recognition technology raises security, privacy concerns

TSA’s facial recognition technology raises security, privacy concerns

Holiday travelers may notice that the TSA is expanding its use of facial recognition technology. It’s now at more than a dozen airports across the country.

The agency says it is evaluating the efficiency of the technique before rolling it out nationwide.

The technology matches your face to the ID a passenger provides at security.

The agency is also testing another system on a more limited scale, where a person’s face is their ID. The machine compares a person’s face to a database of photographs the government already has. With new technology also comes new concerns.

“There’s a consent aspect, there’s a privacy aspect, and there’s a security aspect that really needs to be considered a lot more thoughtfully,” said India McKinney, director of federal affairs with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. A digital rights group.

McKinney argues that there are more privacy protections around a machine that checks a person’s ID than a system that scans a passenger’s face. She notes that the machine that checks the ID doesn’t need to be connected to the Internet.

McKinney also says that it is a mistake to assume that the technique will work for everyone 100% of the time.

TSA said it is continuing to monitor its systems to make sure there is no inherent bias. The agency says use is voluntary.

“The question is, when they say something is voluntary, how easy is it to opt out? And we’ve got conflicting reports about how easy it really is,” McKinney argued.

He believes it will be up to Congress to ensure that people retain the ability to opt-out.

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