The security check at US airports is testing a new camera. However, it reveals more than what was actually planned.
A nondescript black box scans passengers at several US airports. Now the system is causing trouble, because the responsible authority, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), mentions “Data Protection Risks” in their report.
As the news platform Qz.com writes, the new camera comes from the manufacturer Thruvision. The so-called TAC system can see various objects under the clothing of passengers up to ten meters away. These include metal, plastic, ceramics, gel, liquid, powder and paper.
Genitals, breasts and buttocks
But next to objects also other things are visible, which are usually hidden under clothes: The camera also reveals genitals. The employees of the TSA receive the data graphically processed. The visual data is the root of the problem, explains the TSA.
Now they work on an update. This is going to cost 250,000 dollars. So far, the TSA has already invested about 660,000 dollars in TAC. It is not the first time that such a system causes adversity. Between 2007 and 2013, scanners were used in the US, which Qz.com called a “virtual strip”. TSA employees saw genitals, breasts and buttocks. The authority was therefore sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Face is being scanned
Furthermore, the US authorities also want to move forward with the biometric data. It is planned to scan the faces of all passengers leaving the country in the future, as Qz.com writes. The system should replace the boarding pass. It has been tested at 15 airports and a total of 15’000 flights. These included Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta and O’Hare in Chicago. Two million passengers have already been handled. 7,000 of them were in the US longer than they should have been, according to the report.
The photos from the gate are compared with the data of passports or visas. A passenger faced with the new system in mid-April wrote on Twitter: “Did facial recognition replace boarding passes, unbeknownst to me? Did I consent to this?”
I just boarded an international @JetBlue flight. Instead of scanning my boarding pass or handing over my passport, I looked into a camera before being allowed down the jet bridge. Did facial recognition replace boarding passes, unbeknownst to me? Did I consent to this?
Critics see the use of facial recognition as a violation of privacy. The US Congress has already decided in 2004 that such an entry and exit system should be introduced. Now they want to push the technology called Biometric Air Exit quickly. According to a report (PDF) of the Department of Homeland Security it is planned to capture up to 97 percent of all outbound flight passengers by with the face recognition by 2023.