Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is warning about the proliferation of facial recognition technology used by the TSA at American airports, equating it to systems used by Russia and China to follow its citizens, as scrutiny of the Biden Administration’s deployment of the technology increases.
“Countries like China and Russia use facial recognition technology to track their citizens,” wrote Rep. Jordan on Twitter. “Do you trust Joe Biden’s TSA to use it as well?”
Countries like China and Russia use facial recognition technology to track their citizens.
Do you trust Joe Biden’s TSA to use it as well? https://t.co/taPBo3hfQe
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) January 7, 2023
The tweet from Jordan, the incoming chairman of the influential House Judiciary Committee, follows news that the TSA has greatly enhanced facial recognition technology at airports, with 16 of the nation’s largest airports now utilizing face scanning technology.
The expansion, defined by a Fox News opinion writer as “one of the largest efforts to collect advanced biometric data of law-abiding citizens in US history,” is the first stage in the TSA’s aim to replace human verification at airports with machine verification.
According to Fox News:
TSA administrator David Pekoske says his agency has found that the facial recognition algorithm is more accurate than human TSA agents, and TSA claims that eventually facial recognition could be combined with government databases to eliminate the need for carrying an ID at the airport completely. But as convenient and effective the program could become, it poses substantial long-term threats to individual liberty that far outweigh its possible benefits.
The TSA says it will not keep the data associated with most travelers’ facial scans, although some will be retained to test the system’s effectiveness and for law enforcement. And the TSA further promises that under the current iteration of the program, it will allow travelers to opt out of the facial scans entirely. But there is no guarantee that these policies will remain permanently in place, and there are no federal laws that would prevent the TSA from storing biometric data in the future.
In an interview with PBS, Washington Post columnist Geoffrey Fowler expressed his “number one” fear, which was the chance that the face recognition software employed by the TSA may be racist.
“Federal government algorithms from 2019 found people with Black or Asian ancestry could be up to 100 times less accurately identified than white men,” said Fowler.
“That raises all kinds of questions in the context of air travel. Might these systems be letting through imposters? Another one is, could they lead people of minorities to get unfair treatment at the airport? Are people with darker skin going to be sent to special lines for extra inspection?”