Facial recognition program to be rolled out at 16 major U.S. airports, increasing biometric surveillance of Americans

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by Lance D Johnson, Natural News:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is rolling out a new facial recognition program at 16 airports across the United States, increasing the government’s biometric surveillance of Americans. These airports include the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall and Reagan National and the following destinations: Washington, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Gulfport-Biloxi, Jackson (MS) Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and San Jose.

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TSA launches controversial biometric surveillance program

The new biometric surveillance program includes newly-installed kiosks, equipped with cameras. When a passenger approaches the kiosk, he/she must insert their government-issued ID (driver’s license, passport) into the designated slot. Then, the passenger must hold their face still and look into a camera while facial recognition technology scans their face to match their biometrics with their ID. After the person’s face is scanned and approved, a TSA agent signs off on the screening, without having to manually check a person’s ID. According to the TSA, the program is intended to speed up the check-in process for 2.4 million people daily, and verify people’s identity with utmost accuracy.

“What we are trying to do with this is aid the officers to actually determine that you are who you say who you are,” said Jason Lim, identity management capabilities manager, who spoke to reporters during a demonstration of the technology at Baltimore Washington International.

Privacy rights and civil liberties threatened by TSA’s new biometric surveillance

The pilot program is voluntary, and passengers may opt out of the biometric screening. However, the TSA could discriminate against individuals who prioritize their privacy. Individual TSA agents could retaliate against passengers who want to opt out of the intrusive facial recognition procedure. These passengers could be viewed as “suspicious.” Jeramie Scott of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, says it’s only a matter of time before the facial recognition becomes a more permanent fixture at checkpoints, with increasing pressure to participate.

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