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TSA Visited Apple and Google To Discuss Collaboration for Digital ID

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The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is continuing collaboration with Big Tech concerning the use of biometric surveillance technology, but also the development of digital IDs for passengers.

On its site, the TSA revealed that its officials traveled to California recently where they met with representatives of Apple and Google to talk about continuing work on implementing digital ID on people’s phones.

Related: The TSA Plans Big Digital ID Push in 2024

The TSA delegation to Silicon Valley, led by Administrator David Pekoske, referred to Apple and Google as their “innovation partners.” The goal is to continue with yet another example of “public-private” aka, government-Big Tech “partnership.”

This one seems to be happening fully in the open and at least TSA is enthusiastic about talking about it, and spelling it out: “TSA is working with the tech giants so passengers can identify themselves with IDs stored on their phones at airports,” said the agency post.

As for those private companies, Google explained that the “collaboration” in question has to do with Google Wallet, and the ability to store a government ID in the app to allow TSA PreCheck “in select airports.”

That was something Google revealed to the Washington Times back in 2023; to this latest TSA site post, neither Google nor Apple had any comment.

But Connie LaRossa, Google’s Senior Policy Manager, Government Affairs & Public Policy, posted on LinkedIn that the company is “looking forward to being part of the TSA’s vision for the future of travel.”

Related: TSA Fast Track Programs Are a Deal With The Devil

What that future holds, according to TSA Chief Innovation Officer Steven Parker, who also took to LinkedIn, is digital IDs of this type being accepted at airports in “approximately 20 states.”

The incentive for travelers here is to get through airport lines faster and shorten the suffering that air travel has been inflicting on people for the last 20+ years.

Interestingly, in March, the Biden White House said there were effectively new rules that would allow travelers to opt out of TSA’s facial recognition process, “without losing their place in line.”

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Then TSA came back to state this was “not a new option” – and then the White House “updated” its statement to say this was not indeed new, but “continued” to be the case.

Reality on the ground, however, can be quite different, as Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, found out when he tried to avoid facial recognition at a Washington airport last year.

Reports the newspaper: “(Markley) was pressured by a TSA officer who told the senator to step aside while others were allowed to bypass him. The senator published a video showing the TSA officer’s actions on his website.”

Is this the kind of policy the White House says is now “continuing”?

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