Concerns over privacy in TSA facial recognition program


    WASHINGTON - It’s that time of year again and airport officials are warning airline passengers that the number of people flying between November 16 - 26 could reach 25 million, a 5% percent increase from last year.

    “We do expect a record breaking thanksgiving travel season,” said David Pekoske, a TSA administrator during a news conference last week.

    Some good reminders... Allow extra time for traffic, parking, rental car returning and those long lines to get thru security, though the Transportation Security Administration is hopeful some changes in the works may help.

    “We have additional staffs at all out checkpoints and throughout our airports. We have additional canine teams and new technology that passengers will see. New x-ray technology and new conveyor belt technology,” said Pekoske.

    But it comes to making air travel easier, there’s a debate heating up over how much data the government should be allowed to collect and in what ways it might be used.

    “Right now there is no federal regulation with respect to the use of biometric data,” said Jeramie Scott, National Security Counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center in an interview Monday.

    Scott said neither Congress nor the public has really weighed in on some of TSA’s expanded use of facial recognition and other biometric technology...already being used at more than a dozen airports, with plans to eventually expand nationwide.

    “If the government has already created the ability to do this in airports, and databases to identify people, it's a really easy leap to use that in other settings,” Scott said.

    He and others warn of a mass surveillance program already underway, one which TSA maintains could help to get you through security a little faster.

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