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Bill threatens US biometrics program in airports

Bill threatens US biometrics program in airports

A group of U.S. senators, from opposing parties, are sponsoring a bill that would cauterize or kill a government biometric ID program at some airports.

If ultimately signed, the legislation would stop the Transportation Security Administration from using facial recognition or matching “for any purpose.” It would take an act of Congress to reverse direction, according to the bill.

And the TSA would have 90 days after the President signs it to destroy “any facial biometric information, including images and videos,” including photos and videos that are stored in the system. The Traveler Verification Service used by TSA already deletes the images of U.S. citizens after they are matched.

According to political new outlet The Hill, Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced the legislation, which is co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.).

Just this week, officials at Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii said their facility had powered up their iteration of the voluntary biometric ID system.

Airport IT conglomerate SITA installed its biometrics systems – 54 so-called face pods — in two terminals running AI matching algorithms at Inouye. Passengers exiting the U.S. can opt for automatic authentication.

SITA claims its 600 biometric stations deployed across the nation are 99.5 percent accurate.

Also this week, officials of Kansas City International Airport claimed that their authentication system has reduced passenger processing time by 30 percent.

TSA launched a pilot of the biometric system earlier this year at 16 U.S. airports.

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