TSA Quietly Begins Using Facial Recognition

“First generation CAT units are designed to scan a traveler’s photo identification, confirm the traveler’s identity as well as their flight details,” according to TSA.

  • 16 airports across the United States have implemented facial recognition technology to improve security measures.
  • In November 2022, TSA announced, “The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Denver International Airport (DEN) has deployed the next generation of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) to verify the identity of travelers.”
  • “First generation CAT units are designed to scan a traveler’s photo identification, confirm the traveler’s identity as well as their flight details. The new CAT units, referred to as CAT-2, have the same capabilities, but are also equipped with a camera that captures a real-time photo of the traveler” for the sake of “identity verification.”
  • According to Wired, a technology publication, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been updating systems for 16 years in preparation for an “e-Passport.”
  • “Upgrading passport security is a commonsense way to ensure people entering our country are who they say they are. It is already making America safer, without resorting to invasive searches or massive databases of private data,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Jeramie Scott noted the risks posed by the technology, saying, “Facial recognition is a dangerous and invasive surveillance technology that lacks federal safeguards and can too easily be expanded.”
  • Several left-wing senators wrote a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske to express their concerns about the technology.
  • “Increasing biometric surveillance of Americans by the government represents a risk to civil liberties and privacy rights,” wrote senators Ed Markey (MA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Cory Booker (NJ), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Bernie Sanders (VT).
  • “In addition to government misuse, we are concerned about the safety and security of Americans’ biometric data in the hands of authorized private corporations or unauthorized bad actors. TSA’s new data could be hacked — we’ve seen it happen before,” the letter added.
  • As of December 2022, airports incorporating facial identification included:
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Boston Logan International Airport
  • Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
  • Denver International Airport
  • Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
  • Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport
  • Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport
  • Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • Miami International Airport
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • San Jose International Airport
  • Salt Lake City International Airport
  • American Faith reported that the World Economic Forum (WEF) gave Canada over $100 million to create the “Known Traveler Digital Identity Project.”
  • Some believe the project will launch a digital ID tracking system.
  • Canada’s transportation minister stated, “This project is based on voluntary contributions from project partners. All project partners are responsible for their respective costs associated with participation. Project partners include: the Government of Canada, the Government of the Netherlands, Air Canada and Royal Dutch airlines, Toronto, Montreal, and Schiphol International Airport, and the World Economic Forum.”