Dangerous FAA Amendment Would Hurt Aviation Security

Dangerous FAA Amendment Would Hurt Aviation Security
Dangerous FAA Amendment Would Hurt Aviation Security
Written by Harry Johnson

Merkley/Kennedy attempting to spike checkpoint wait times, waste taxpayer dollars and increase prevalence of fake identification.

New amendment proposed by US Senators Jeff Merkley and John Kennedy aims to halt the use of automated facial matching technology by the Transportation Security Administration at airport checkpoints, an optional tech widely supported by travelers. This amendment is part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill.

During a visit to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), the busiest in the country, with thousands of travelers each day using automated identity verification system for a safer and faster security experience, the Commission on Seamless and Secure Travel, along with representatives from the TSA, Delta Air Lines, and U.S. Travel Association, explored various advancements in travel technology. These included the TSA PreCheck Touchless ID with Delta, CAT-2 screening technology, and Delta’s curb-to-gate digital identity experience. The Merkley/Kennedy amendment coincided with this visit and highlights the significance of efficient and secure biometric screening, which is poised to shape the future of travel.

The Merkley/Kennedy amendment aims to prohibit or significantly limit the use of biometric technology by the TSA. This would lead to increased waiting times in security screening lines and a reduction in the effectiveness of advanced biometric facial matching programs, such as the CAT-2 machines and TSA PreCheck’s Touchless ID partnerships with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Additionally, a substantial amount of taxpayer-funded resources invested in the development and implementation of biometric screening technology at airports would be wasted. The Commission on Seamless and Secure Travel members have emphasized the significance of biometrics in fulfilling the TSA’s mission.

Kevin McAleenan, former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection stated: “Biometrics are critical to TSA’s mission, bolstering its commitment to security and the customer experience. By leveraging facial recognition and other biometric technologies, TSA has increased security at the checkpoint, enhanced the traveler experience, and improved efficiency thereby focusing more resources on new and emerging threats.”

“I spent a significant portion of my time in Congress on the House Homeland Security Committee focused on strengthening aviation security at airports nationwide,” said former House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member John Katko. “A vital piece of that effort is the increased use of biometric technology at security checkpoints. Our nation has made vital investments to ensure the safe and efficient screening of passengers using advanced identity verification technology. To abandon biometric technology and the progress we have made would make airports less safe. I strongly oppose this proposal.”

“Senators Merkley and Kennedy should come to Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta and let TSA give them a tour. They should see—firsthand—how TSA’s new systems work, and how the traveling public is responding. Spoiler alert: It’s popular. No one is forced to use the new system, but people are volunteering in droves to use it, just like people clamored to sign up for TSA PreCheck,” said Seth Stodder, former Assistant Secretary for Borders, Immigration and Trade Policy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Biometric technology is the future of air traveler screening and is endorsed by the traveling public. Imposing broad restrictions on facial recognition technology will only undermine security, waste travelers’ time, and squander millions of taxpayer dollars invested in cutting-edge screening technology. Congress risks angering millions of travelers if it opts to impede innovation, delay the travel process, and compromise security.

The visit to ATL on Wednesday was attended by Holly Canevari, the Deputy Administrator of the TSA, Myung Kim, the Acting Chief of Staff of the TSA, Steven Parker, the Chief Innovation Officer of the TSA, Melissa Conley, the Executive Director of Capability Management and Innovation at the TSA, Alexa Lopez, the Assistant Administrator for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs at the TSA, John Laughter, the Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations for Delta Air Lines, Jason Hausner, the Managing Director for Passenger Facilitation for Delta Air Lines, Greg Forbes, the Managing Director – Airport Experience for Delta Air Lines, Ray Provencio, the Acting Executive Director of Admissibility and Passenger Programs at CBP, Kevin McAleenan, co-chair of the Commission on Seamless and Secure Travel along with multiple other members of the commission, and Geoff Freeman, the President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, along with Tori Emerson Barnes, the Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy.

WTNJOIN | eTurboNews | eTN

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About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for mroe than 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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