TSA Confirms Biometric Scanning Soon Won’t Be Optional Even For Domestic Travelers


In 2017, the DHS began quietly rolling out its facial recognition program, starting with international airports and aimed mainly at collecting/scanning people boarding international flights. Even in its infancy, the DHS was hinting this was never going to remain solely an international affair.

It made its domestic desires official shortly thereafter, with the TSA dropping its domestic surveillance “roadmap” which now included “expanding biometrics to additional domestic travelers.” Then the DHS and TSA ran silent for a bit, resurfacing in late 2022 with the news it was rolling out its facial recognition system at 16 domestic airports.

As of January, the DHS and TSA were still claiming this biometric ID verification system was strictly opt-in. A TSA rep interviewed by the Washington Post, however, hinted that opting out just meant subjecting yourself to the worst in TSA customer service. Given the options, more travelers would obviously prefer a less brusque/hands-y trip through security checkpoints, ensuring healthy participation in the TSA’s “optional” facial recognition program.

A little more than two months have passed, and the TSA is now informing domestic travelers there will soon be no way to opt out of its biometric program. (via Papers Please)

Speaking at an aviation security panel at South by Southwest, TSA Administrator David Pekoske made these comments:

“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.”

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, he said.


Pekoske buries the problematic aspects of biometric harvesting in exchange for domestic travel “privileges” by claiming this is all about making things better for passengers.

“It’s critically important that this system has as little friction as it possibly can, while we provide for safety and security,” Pekoske said.

Yes, you’ll get through screening a little faster. Unless the AI is wrong, in which case you’ll be dealing with a whole bunch of new problems most agents likely won’t have the expertise to handle.


More travelers. Fewer agents. And a whole bunch of screens to interact with. That’s the plan for the nation’s airports and everyone who passes through them.

Source: TSA Confirms Biometric Scanning Soon Won’t Be Optional Even For Domestic Travelers | Techdirt

And way more data that hackers can get their hands on and which the government and people who buy the data can use for 1984 type purposes.

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