Facial Recognition Technology Used By TSA Found To Have Racial Bias, Here’s What You Need To Know

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been piloting facial recognition technology at selected airports across the U.S. It is predicted that this new technology will be the main way travelers are identified when going through airport security.

However, federal government researches have found evidence of racial discrimination in the facial recognition software at the airport security checkpoints.

According to reports this month by The National Institute of Standards and Technology, facial recognition software has a higher rate of false matches between Asian and Black people in comparison to white people.

USA TODAY reports, “researchers found a higher rate of false identifications of Black women when matching their phones to an FBI mugshot database.” The higher the rate of mismatches, the more a person can be falsely accused, says the institute.

Mark Howell, a TSA spokesman says, “TSA’s facial recognition system will be for passenger identification and to determine the appropriate level of screening only. TSA understands the variety of concerns related to facial recognition match performance and takes this issue seriously.”

U.S Customs and Border Protection utilizes the technology to screen international passengers entering the county at 16 airports in the U.S. and at 26 airports for departing international passengers.

The new technology’s main pro is shorter wait times for travelers.

Brian Jackson, a security researcher at Rand Corp. says, “facial recognition is going to replace that interaction with the TSA officer.”

However, if you don’t want to risk being falsely identified, you can opt-out of using the new technology.

“Opting out will always have a time cost. There’s certainly a convenience benefit to it,” says Jackson to USA TODAY.

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