back to article TSA to expand facial recognition across America

America's Transport Security Administration, better known as the TSA, has been testing facial recognition software to automatically screen passengers flying across the country in 16 airports. And now it's looking into rolling it out nationwide next year. Flyers will be able to pass through security checkpoints by scanning a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Land of the free you say?

    Move along citizen, nothing to see here.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Land of the free you say?

      They Live

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Land of the free you say?

      To be fair, considering the TSA's awesome success rate at everything else they do (hovering around 3% in the audits I've seen), this is probably one of the less concerning applications of facial recognition.

  2. doublelayer Silver badge

    Data will not be kept except always

    By their own admission, they plan to send the data they collect to somewhere else in the DHS system for unspecified purposes. The only step necessary to do this perpetually is to not end the "evaluation" period that allows them to do it. I doubt they're currently planning anything particularly nefarious with it, which doesn't matter because as soon as someone comes up with a way to use the collected data, it will all be right there. Facial recognition has proven in many tests, conducted in a lot of countries and a wide range of environments, to be crap at getting useful results and great at creating privacy violations, overreach, and artificial discrimination. It is not needed here and is likely to cause significant harm.

  3. seven of five

    same as before

    Women would be singeld out anyway for a full pat down (well, the nice ones at least) and non-whites are suspicious, probably need to be shot.

    So no change in SOP for TSA.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "they can tell the officer that they do not want their photo taken" get a free prostate exam.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: but they can tell the officer that they do not want their photo taken

      Yeah telling a TSA goon you don't want them to do something always ends well. Never leads to an intimate... "conversation" ... in a private room. Never ever.

  5. Little Mouse

    Hardly new, though?

    There have been similar setups at International airports, where you feed the machine your passport and stare blankly at the camera until it lets you though the gate (or not), for years, Shirley?

    "Staff are still on standby, however, for final verification."

    Half the queues quickly get gummed up, waiting for an overworked member of staff to override the fault. Just like at Sainsbury's self-checkout.

  6. Lil Endian Silver badge


    So, airports are being linked across the nation by token ring? The LAN of the Free?!

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: CAT-2

      Token Ring...for increased "reliability"

      // former TR developer

      // I got better...

      1. EricB123 Silver badge

        Re: CAT-2

        whats wrong with 20mA current loop?

  7. TaabuTheCat

    Misery loves even more company

    What a load of BS. The fastest part of the whole "TSA experience" (it's like a bad Disney ride) is getting your ID checked. And what about your boarding pass - are we scanning that too? This is guaranteed to cause even more misery at TSA checkpoints, so it's clearly about eliminating staff. Besides, I thought one of the supposed benefits of the ID check was forcing interaction with a human being who might spot nervousness, evasiveness, etc.

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      TSA experience

      Much agreement.

      so it's clearly about eliminating staff and not (gotta gag first, one mo *gag*) "yield[ing] a more streamlined passenger experience"

      If it were you'd release your pos/neg hit rate, so as to improve travellers' confidences. No stats = no confidence.

      Lemme guess: releasing those stats would compromise the security of the system/nation/Disney [1]? Erm, ever heard of security by obscurity? We have.

      I'm very pleased to have been to the Left Bank of the Pond ('80s) - the people are so hospitable, the food is astounding and there was imported beer! (US beer... well! Happy for you that you have the micro-breweries now!) You wouldn't get me back there on an extradition.

      [1] credit: TaabuTheCat :)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking forward to these hacks to it

    Someone/thing altering the link between images and names/numbers. Meaning your mom is recognized as some businessman from New Jersy, a CIA agent shows up as Terry Wrist, Madonna shows up as a dog without it's rabies shot. Maybe add 50 years to everyone's birthdate too.

    I am so looking forward to this, it will shutdown airports due to "we don't know how to look at an ID and tell who it is, that tech was forgotten" lol

    Still, our overlords are getting much more efficient at managing the cattle, er consumers, er people. I'm sure Xi is proud of the US following in his footsteps.

  9. R.O.

    Your FACE is the Universal Identifier, ...eventually

    Big Brothers everywhere want to use facial ID as the universal world wide identification media. No ID card necessary, no language barrier, no touching. You can't lose your face, and can't change it (normally), etc. Luckily, or regrettably, the technology doesn't fulfill the fondest hopes, happy ending dreams dreams and deepest wishes of despots and thuggish autocracies everywhere just yet. Indeed, face ID can be beat in a matter of seconds by those in the know. Various disguises, like a pair of glasses, work well sometimes.

    Looks like TSA will be using ID mainly to build up the data base and a test bed for USA police, government agents and big brother. Just because they can. And, they will. They might even thwart a terrorist attack some day. Despite their current record.

    It's for you own good you know.

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Your FACE is the Universal Identifier, for you and others

      Not every one has a unique face, though.

      So either the technology must be able to distinguish between identical individuals using finer distinctions than humans can, or be a composite technology, eg. combined with gait analysis. Since facial recognition pretty much sucks at the mo, the former is not happening in the foreseeable future.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    live photos and digital IDs analyzed by the CAT-2 units will not be kept.

    But it will encrypt the data and pass it to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate to assess.

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