Move afoot in Congress to ban U.S. airports from secretly scanning passengers’ faces and indefinitely storing their personal biometric data
16 U.S. airports have been working with the federal government to scan people’s faces since at least May 2023 and probably before: TSA program is ‘precursor to full-blown national surveillance state’
There’s a bipartisan move in Congress to end the unauthorized scanning of people’s faces at U.S. airports with the use of facial-recognition technology.
The government’s biometric data-collection program, which has not been widely reported on in the corporate media, has been going on at 16 airports for seven months — at least that’s how long the government admits to it. And most Americans who frequent these airports are completely unaware that they are having their face scans harvested and stored in databanks freely accessed by the U.S. government.
Two senators, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, have stood up and said, enough. This needs to stop.
Senators John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, and Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, introduced legislation on Wednesday, November 29, to end involuntary facial recognition screening at airports.
The Hill reports that the two senators are aiming to repeal the authorization of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to use facial-recognition screening at airports.
The senators say their bill, called the Travelers’ Privacy Protection Act, or TPPA, would prevent the agency from “further exploiting the technology and storing traveler’s biodata.”
The senators stressed that the overwhelming majority of Americans are unaware that they have the right to opt out of the facial screenings. Nobody is asked if they wish to grant permission for the government to scan their faces, it’s just sneakily performed on the spot.
Airports are supposed to have a sign alerting travelers that their photo will be taken as part of the pilot program and that they have the right to opt out, but most passengers say the signs are so small they didn’t even notice them.
I have personally talked with multiple airport passengers, including one former U.S. congresswoman, who said she had her face scanned and the airport personnel did not ask her permission beforehand.
Senator Kennedy said in a statement:
“Every day, TSA scans thousands of Americans’ faces without their permission and without making it clear that travelers can opt out of the invasive screening. The Traveler Privacy Protection Act would protect every American from Big Brother’s intrusion by ending the facial recognition program.”
The proposed legislation would ban the TSA from expanding its program and require the agency to receive congressional authorization to use the technology in the future. It would also require the TSA to dispose of the facial biometrics.
Merkley said the type of personalized, unique bio information being scooped up and stored should be off limits to any government.
“The TSA program is a precursor to a full-blown national surveillance state. Nothing could be more damaging to our national values of privacy and freedom. No government should be trusted with this power,” Merkley told The Hill.
Senators Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were also co-sponsors of the legislation.
The TSA announced in May it was launching its pilot facial recognition program at 16 airports across the country, with the Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C, and Denver airports, four of the busiest in the nation, among the 16 that agreed to trample all over people’s privacy and work with the government to test the program.
The other airports participating in this egregious pilot program are Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Jose, and Gulfport-Biloxi and Jackson in Mississippi.
Many of the busiest airports in Europe and in Israel are also doing the face scans. Some are also scanning people’s irises.
Notice that roughly half of the U.S. airports participating are in states run by Republicans. This is just further evidence that when it comes to the surveillance state being built by globalist technocrats, Republicans are no better than Democrats.
But that’s not all. It gets worse.
The TSA announced this past summer that it had plans to expand the airport bio data collection program to 430 U.S. airports next year.
Travelers at airports with the pilot program place their driver’s license into a slot that reads the card or press their passport photo against a card reader. The travelers then look into a camera on a screen, which takes a photo of their face and compares it to their ID photo.
Once this so-called pilot program gets expanded to all airports, the government will be in possession of the complete travel history of every American who flies, both domestically and internationally. Throw in an electric vehicle, and your road travel will also be trackable in real time, but that’s another topic for another article.
The bipartisan Traveler Privacy Protection Act would prevent the TSA from using airports as a site to collect Americans’ sensitive facial biometric data by:
- Repealing existing authorization for TSA to explore facial recognition technology and require explicit congressional authorization for future use.
- Immediately banning the Transportation Security Administration from expanding its use of facial recognition.
- Requiring TSA to end its facial recognition program and dispose of facial biometrics within three months.
Please call your U.S. senator and ask them to support this legislation.
SOURCE: LEO HOHMANN