New TSA Tech May Collect Biometric Data

( – The TSA wants to take your picture at airports to compare it to your official government ID and make sure you’re actually who you say you are. TSA isn’t saying why this process needs to be automated as anyone with eyeballs can look at an ID and the person in front of them and determine if they are the same individual or not.

The new facial scanner is coming online at 400 airports around the country and is planning to run experiments with the technology over the coming months in concert with the Department of Homeland Security.

The CAT scanners, colloquially known as CAT-2 units, deploy the latest facial recognition technology to compare real-time photos taken of travelers to their official government ID. The technology was first deployed in 2022 and has been slowly expanding since.

TSA has attempted to suggest that data collection will be “minimal” and will only store pictures temporarily, except during testing phases. That caveat has privacy advocates concerned about just how long this testing phase will last and what will happen to the data stored after it expires.

A TSA official has noted that travelers can opt-out of the screening, but didn’t explain if travelers will be informed of their right to opt-out at airports. Many people are still unaware they have the right to request a manual pat-down and opt-out of the controversial body scanners which take naked images of individuals and expose them to potentially harmful electromagnetic radiation.

A TSA media release on the subject assures travelers that they’ll respect their privacy, civil liberties, and will do everything to maintain the public’s trust. They said the new tech is solely to automate the process of manually checking ID’s without saying why that was necessary. The release also claimed the tech would not be used for any law enforcement or surveillance purpose.

A bipartisan bill is attempting to prohibit the use of this technology by highlighting it could be exploited by bad actors and travelers aren’t informed of their rights to opt-out.

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