AP News - Rebecca Santana and Rick Gentilo
A passenger walks up to an airport security checkpoint, slips an ID card into a slot and looks into a camera atop a small screen. The screen flashes “Photo Complete” and the person walks through — all without having to hand over their identification to the TSA officer sitting behind the screen.
It’s all part of a pilot project by the Transportation Security Administration to assess the use of facial recognition technology at a number of airports across the country.
The effort comes at a time when the use of various forms of technology to enhance security and streamline procedures is only increasing. TSA says the pilot is voluntary and accurate, but critics have raised concerns about questions of bias in facial recognition technology and possible repercussions for passengers who want to opt out.
The technology is currently in 16 airports. In addition to Baltimore, it’s being used at Reagan National near Washington, D.C., airports in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Jose, and Gulfport-Biloxi and Jackson in Mississippi. However, it’s not at every TSA checkpoint so not every traveler going through those airports would necessarily experience it.
Since it’s come out the pilot has come under scrutiny by some elected officials and privacy advocates. In a February letter to TSA, five senators — four Democrats and an Independent who is part of the Democratic caucus — demanded the agency stop the program, saying: “Increasing biometric surveillance of Americans by the government represents a risk to civil liberties and privacy rights.”