EFF Raises Alarm Over TSA’s Expanding Biometrics Efforts

EFF Raises Alarm Over TSA's Expanding Biometrics Efforts

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is raising red flags over the Transportation Security Administration’s plans to expand its use of biometrics at US airports.

The EFF’s warnings, outlined in a new blog post, come in response to the TSA Biometrics Roadmap for Aviation Security and the Passenger Experience published in October. The document laid out a number of initiatives the TSA was planning to undertake, including an expansion of its TSA PreCheck biometric pre-screening program, and its partnership with the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

Commenting on the TSA’s plans, the EFF post asserts that its Roadmap ignores “the pervasive challenges with accurately identifying individuals and the privacy risks associated with collecting massive amounts of biometric data,” adding that “it provides no strategy for dealing with passengers who are unfairly misidentified.” It also asserts that the TSA “is alarmingly silent” on how it plans to protect traveller data collected by partner airlines and other stakeholders.

Perhaps most importantly, the EFF says that the TSA’s Roadmap details plans to collect biometric data from individuals who haven’t consented to the collection of such data – both Americans and foreign visitors alike – and to share it with partner agencies.

Unfortunately, the EFF’s post does not offer prescriptive solutions to the TSA’s plans, such as legal action that might prevent the kinds of abuses and overreach about which it’s raising the alarm. But in highlighting the issues, the EFF is further contributing to the ongoing debate about facial recognition technology, which was thrown into the spotlight this year thanks in large part to an ACLU investigation into Amazon’s sale of such technology to police agencies, and is likely to continue into the next year at the very least as society begins to grapple with what is now highly sophisticated biometric technology.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

December 11, 2018 – by Alex Perala