The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is revising its approach to its PreCheck program, and according to the International Biometrics & Identification Association (IBIA), the changes under consideration would be changes for the worse.
Essentially, the TSA appears to be considering moving away from its reliance on biometrics for PreCheck, which aims to securely expedite travelers through airport security. Right now, that’s done by scanning those individuals’ fingerprints and matching it against the biometric data collected in advance. Now the TSA is working on a Request for Proposal (RFP) asking vendors to put forward solutions that would use biographic information and big data to determine a “risk-score” for travelers passing through airport security.
The RFP was already issued, but then withdrawn for technical reasons, so there’s a crucial window now for advocates to pressure the agency to remain committed to biometric security. Accordingly, the IBIA is coming out swinging. The organization’s managing director, Tovah LaDier, says that the “new practice lacks the necessary accuracy to identify security risks and poses a serious threat to applicant privacy,” pointing out that the current system in use with the FBI’s Criminal History Records Checks (CHRC) has an accuracy rate of 98.6 percent, while data aggregation algorithms remain untested and unreliable.
The IBIA also points out that the Department of Homeland Security relies heavily on biometrics when vetting travelers, and has amassed a huge record base – which the TSA will fail to use if it relies on biographic data alone. It’s also worth pointing out that the vendors the TSA has been working with to implement the PreCheck program have taken measures to make it convenient and easy for individuals to enrol. It would be a shame to see that work go to waste, and it could be dangerous from a security standpoint.
May 20, 2015 – by Alex Perala