Scott Mulligan
Director U.S, LAM LHA
May 16, 2023

Biometrics Introduced by TSA at Checkpoint

This week major US news outlets covered TSA’s introduction of biometrics at checkpoint. This biometric application is being added to TSA’s Credential Authentication Technology (CAT), which for non-AVSEC junkies is the machine you put your driver’s license into when you approach the TSA checkpoint.

On it’s own, the original CAT machine is a major step forward in security because it uses the power of analytics to analyze the identification documents presented to it. This means that your daughter’s fake ID, which would likely pass as valid to the unaided eye (including trained eyes), would be caught by the CAT because it can compare fonts, spacing and typographical errors that a human couldn’t detect, even with blue lights and magnifying glasses. Also, it does it in seconds, which even a trained professional can’t do.

The second iteration, CAT II, takes this one step further and eliminates another flaw in the human brain, which is the ability to compare a picture to a person standing in front of us. While it seems simple, how many times have you said or thought when looking at a scrap book “is this really you?” Countless studies have shown that we as humans are not good at such comparisons, even if trained on them.

While this seems like the future, it is very much the present and this facial comparison technology and ID validation processes introduced by TSA are already standard place in both the private sector and elsewhere in the government, including the Social Security Administration, the Veteran’s Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service.

Lastly, to those who are fearful of privacy in this new era, it is helpful to understand what CAT is and what it isn’t. It’s main purpose is to analyze IDs for validity and then compare the photo to the person presenting the ID. In it’s current iteration, it’s not collecting and storing photos for later use.

So congratulations TSA, this is a major step in addressing checkpoint vulnerabilities. The AVSEC community is eager to see this technology expanded into all areas of the transportation security sector.

Read more here on LinkedIn News: Face Scans Land at Airport Security

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