Facial recognition scans may soon be commonplace at airports across the U.S. – but at what cost?
With the introduction of Bill S. 1872, the TSA Modernization Act, travelers can probably expect to see more facial recognition technology being used at airports nationwide. The bill will allow it to be used at bag drops, security screening, and boarding areas. It’s not a new technology for some travelers, though – pilot programs have been tested in Atlanta, Boston, Houston, and Chicago since last year, Forbes reported. But security issues may be a concern.
In June, the Department of Homeland Security published a particularly blunt report saying that the only real way to ensure your biometric data isn’t collected at the airport is to just stay home and not travel. As it stands now, the Department’s policy is to delete the data and scans after two weeks – with the caveat that they could be kept longer if necessary. Customs and Border Patrol is also allowed to share that biometric data with authorities on the local, state, and federal levels.
It may sound concerning, but the truth is, you’re likely already scanned into the system. Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology researched the issue and found that already, around half of the adults in the U.S. are currently scanned into a law enforcement facial database. That’s thanks to 12 states that currently allow the FBI access to DMV data (including photos) and mug shots. That means that about 412 million Americans are in an FBI database, the majority of them innocent people, which, depending on who you ask, is a serious breach of privacy.