Airport Alert: AAAE Opposes Legislation to Prohibit TSA From Using Biometrics at Checkpoints

On April 26, AAAE President and CEO Todd Hauptli sent a letter to House and Senate Committee leaders opposing the addition of provisions to the pending Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization legislation that would prohibit or severely restrict the Transportation Security Administration from using biometric facial matching technologies at their security checkpoints, including TSA’s Credential Authentication Technology (CAT).  If this provision were included in the final bill, it would weaken aviation security and could increase passenger wait times.
The current FAA authorization extension expires on May 10. Leaders and staff are continuing to try to resolve their differences over a few remaining items in an effort to finalize the FAA bill before the May 10 deadline. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and John Kennedy (R-LA) are targeting the FAA reauthorization bill after being unsuccessful in attaching language to restrict TSA’s use of biometric technology to other recent legislation. In conversations with staff, they informed AAAE that Senators have not raised concerns about this legislation, and some Democrats and Republicans are in favor of including it on the final FAA reauthorization bill.
AAAE’s letter highlighted that CAT, which more accurately validates a traveler's identity and can better assist Transportation Security Officers in determining what type of screening is needed, is currently installed in more than 80 airports, and permits the use of mobile driver’s licenses or other digital identity credentials at 28 airports.  Beyond the security improvements, this technology expedites the checkpoint screening process because travelers do not have to exchange their boarding pass or physical identification with a TSO.   AAAE believes a wider adoption of biometric technology at security checkpoints, with appropriate safeguards and a clear opt-out option, is one way that airports, airlines, and the federal government can more seamlessly handle expected passenger growth while enhancing security. 
A copy of the AAAE letter can be found here.