Evaluating Facial Identification Technology - Detroit Airport Pilot

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  • TSA is testing facial identification to verify a passenger’s identity at our security checkpoint using the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Traveler Verification Service, which compares a live image taken at the checkpoint to a gallery of pre-staged photos that the passenger previously provided to the government (e.g., passport).
  • Visit CBP’s biometrics webpage for more information about CBP’s Traveler Verification Service.
  • TSA will continue to notify the public of its pilots and testing efforts via publicly-issued Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs).

Pilot Process at Detroit (DTW) Airport

  • In March 2021 at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), TSA and CBP, in cooperation with Delta Air Lines, began a pilot for Trusted Travelers (e.g., TSA PreCheck® and CBP Global Entry members). This pilot explores interoperability between TSA’s Secure Flight system and CBP’s Traveler Verification Service system to verify a passenger’s identity at the TSA checkpoint. The technology compares the passenger’s live photo to a pre-staged gallery of photos previously provided to the government for travel purposes (e.g., passport).
  • TSA also plans to pilot this technology at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in late 2021.
  • During the cooperating airline’s mobile app check-in process, eligible passengers will be notified of their eligibility to participate in the pilot and can opt-in (consent) to participate. Passengers who choose to participate will have a consent indicator on their mobile boarding pass. Passengers who do not opt-in and do not have a consent indicator on their mobile boarding pass will not be able to participate in the pilot. These passengers will not be able to have their live photos taken at the checkpoint.
  • For this pilot, CBP will pre-stage photos that the passenger previously provided to the government (e.g., passport), compare it to their live photo captured at the checkpoint, and send the match results to the TSA checkpoint. Consenting passengers can opt-out of having their photo taken at the checkpoint. However, their previously-provided photo may still be staged in the gallery.

Data to be Collected

  • During the pilot, TSA will collect a live photograph of the passenger, passport number, known traveler number, transactional metadata (e.g., transaction ID, timestamps, quality scores), and whether the passenger successfully matched to a gallery photo or not.
  • TSA will convert the information into an anonymized format, encrypt it, and transfer it for temporary analysis to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T), which will assess the effectiveness of this biometric technology pilot. DHS will delete the data within 180 days.
  • For more information on the data collected during this pilot, please see TSA’s PIA.

Privacy Act Notice

  • Should you choose to opt-in to the DHS TSA facial recognition pilot, TSA will collect the data described above from you for the purposes of enhancing transportation security, identity verification, and testing the effectiveness of facial recognition under the authority of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act.
  • Providing this information is voluntary. If you do not provide it, you will proceed through the standard screening process at the checkpoint. TSA may share information that you provide with CBP, DHS S&T, law enforcement, intelligence agencies, or others under the published System of Records Notice - DHS/TSA-001 Transportation Security Enforcement Record System.
  • For more information on DHS/TSA Privacy policies or to view the System of Records Notice and the Privacy Impact Assessment, please see DHS’s website.