TSA assessing innovative biometric fingerprint technology at Airports

The Transportation Security Administration will be assessing new checkpoint screening technology at a TSA PreP® lane at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and one at Denver International Airport starting this week. TSA is conducting a proof of concept demonstration to evaluate the operational and security impact of using biometrics to verify passengers’ identities using their fingerprints. The biometric authentication technology enables a traveler’s fingerprints to serve as both a boarding pass and identity document. The technology matches passenger fingerprints provided at the checkpoint to those that have previously been provided to TSA by travelers when they enrolled in the TSA PreP® application program. Once the technology finds a fingerprint match, it is able to obtain the passenger’s boarding pass information through Secure Flight. Participation is voluntary and all passengers who choose to participate will then be subject to the standard ticket document checking process of showing their boarding pass and identification document.

“TSA looks at technologies and intelligence capabilities that allow us to analyze and secure the travel environment, passengers and their property,” said TSA Acting Assistant Administrator Steve Karoly of the Office of Requirements and Capabilities Analysis. “Through these and other technology demonstrations, we are looking to reinvent and enhance security effectiveness to meet the evolving threat and ensure that passengers get to their destinations safely.”

In the long term, this technology has the potential to automate the travel document checking process by eliminating the need for a boarding pass and identity document, and granting or denying traveler access into the security checkpoint through an electronic gate.

During this data collection period, passengers using the TSA Pre✓® lanes may volunteer to present their fingerprints on a contact or contactless fingerprint scanning BAT unit.

TSA Pre✓® passengers who have not provided fingerprints to TSA through the TSA PreP® application program are also invited to use the system since it provides valuable information to TSA during the proof of concept.

TSA will analyze the data collected during the pilot for potential implementation at other U.S. airports in the future.

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