What was news to me today was that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) involuntary facial recognition screenings. I was pleased to discover that it was only in Los Angeles and Washington, DC. So, I don’t think I’ve been scanned (that I know of). However, the fact that exists is still a problem. And it looks like to US Senators are reaching across the aisle to tackle the problem.
Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) put forth a bill Wednesday to put a stop to the practice at airports. The Traveler Privacy Protection Act should serve to keep the TSA from capturing facial data. It will also require the agency to seek congressional approval to start it up. Lastly, the TSA will need to dispose of all the biometric data it collected within three months.
The TSA program is a precursor to a full-blown national surveillance state. Nothing could be more damaging to our national values of privacy and freedom. No government should be trusted with this power.”
Excerpt from news release by US Senator Jeff merkley (D-OR)
Kennedy and Merkley aren’t the only ones trying to fight this fight. They have support from:
- Edward J. Markey (D-MA)
- Roger Marshall (R-KS)
- Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
- Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
This program was introduced in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in 2018. The TSA tried to pitch it as a super-cool, high-tech security feature that give you a “biometrically-enabled curb-to-gate passenger experience.” The agency planned to ramp it up to nearly 430 US airports over the next few years.
Apparently, you can opt out of the scan, but as shown in the video above, it’s not mentioned anywhere.
Organizations like the ACLU, Electronic Privacy Information Center, and Public Citizen are supporting this bill.
The privacy risks and discriminatory impact of facial recognition are real, and the government’s use of our faces as IDs poses a serious threat to our democracy. The TSA should not be allowed to unilaterally subject millions of travelers to this dangerous technology.”
Excerpt from Merkley’s news release written by Jeramie Scott, Senior Counsel and Director of EPIC’S Project on Surveillance Oversight
Every day, TSA scans thousands of Americans’ faces without their permission and without making it clear that travelers can opt out of the invasive screening. The Traveler Privacy Protection Act would protect every American from Big Brother’s intrusion by ending the facial recognition program.”
Excerpt from Sen. Kennedy’s news release
While this is good news for us Americans, what about when this technology is turned against an oppressed people being forced from their lands?