Traversing Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lines is already stressful enough at airports. All travelers are screened during the security process by technology or an invasive pat-down. One such machine currently being tested in more than a dozen airports with a possible nationwide rollout next year is one where travelers look straight into a camera, according to The Washington Post.
The TSA is quietly testing a biometric machine called the next generation of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) to verify the identity of travelers via their face. CAT scans the traveler’s photo ID and then compares that with the Secure Flight database.
CAT machines are currently at 16 major airports with plans to expand nationwide, according to WaPo, adding, “Kiosks with cameras are doing a job that used to be completed by humans: checking the photos on travelers’ IDs to make sure they’re not impostors.”
The controversial tech is currently opt-in for passengers (at the moment). It’s so controversial that several cities, such as San Francisco, have banned it.
There’s a lot to worry about if TSA is given the green light for a nationwide rollout next year. One thing is, how can anyone trust this federal agency to handle biometric data properly?
TSA recently said, “Photos captured by CAT units are never stored or used for any other purpose than immediate identity verification.” But still — with trust in government at low levels, who actually believes that statement.
The expansion of biometric verification data for travelers is a sign that the US is following down a terrifying path that China took to become a surveillance nation.
So what does this all mean? Well, it’s a warning of the dystopic future where biometrics will be used to identify citizens across all facets of society. Think about Amazon’s palm-reading payment technology that allows customers at some Whole Foods locations to pay with their fingerprints.