The chief of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) David Pekoske said that the agency is considering biometric technology to reduce traveler processing times and reduce the number of screening officers. He made the comments at the South by Southwest conference, which focused on aviation security.
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Pekoske noted that the TSA’s role is maintaining security and the transportation system and staying ahead of threats. For those reasons, it is “critically important that this system has as little friction as it possibly can, while we provide for safety and security.”
The TSA has been relying on biometric technology in the identification verification process. According to the agency, the newest technology it has been using is over 99% effective and does not have problems identifying darker-skinned people like the old technology.
“We’re upgrading our camera systems all the time, upgrading our lighting systems,” Pekoske said. “[We’re] upgrading our algorithms, so that we are using the very most advanced algorithms and technology we possibly can.”
Pekoske said that the agency will ensure it remains transparent with the public about the data that is taken, what it is used for, and for how long it will be stored. For now, he said that travelers can opt out of processes they are not comfortable with.
According to The Dallas Morning News, giving up biometric data for travel will eventually not be optional.
“He said passengers can also choose to opt out of certain screening processes if they are uncomfortable, for now. Eventually, biometrics won’t be optional,” the report states.