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TSA trials new facial recognition system at LAX to leverage digital travel documents


The Transportation Security Administration has begun a three-week trial of almost real-time facial recognition technology at Los Angeles International Airport, FCW reports.

The trial began January 30, and compares travellers faces to their electronic passport images.

This allows the TSA to leverage trusted digital identification records, rather than temporary databases, to verify traveller identities. In a privacy assessment of the trial (PDF), the TSA said the 1-n approach could help develop requirements for biometric matching with other identity documents, such as REAL-ID compliant driver’s licenses.

Customs and Border Protection overcame a technical hurdle to achieve matching against the temporary database last year. At the time, Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told a Senate Committee that biometric exit systems could be installed in all major U.S. airports within four years, as previously reported.

The privacy assessment identified potential privacy risks for the voluntary trial under the principle of transparency, the principle of data minimization, and the principle of data quality and integrity, along with mitigation strategies for each. The mitigations involve issuing hand-outs and posting signs, deleting travellers’ personally identifiable information after they have passed through e-Gates, and directing all travellers through manual Travel Document Checker (TDC) processes regardless of biometric matching results, respectively.

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