TSA assessing innovative biometric fingerprint technology

National Press Release
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration will be assessing new checkpoint screening technology at a TSA Pre✓® 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 Pre✓® 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. Fingerprints captured by the technology are deleted after each transaction. TSA will make no other uses of the fingerprints. Individuals who have not enrolled their fingerprints in TSA Pre✓® will still be allowed to enter the proof of concept lane in order to evaluate the ability of the technology to correctly assess that they do not match enrolled fingerprints. Participants are assisting TSA in evaluating the technology but will still be subject to normal TSA screening processes.

TSA Pre✓® passengers who have not provided fingerprints to TSA through the TSA Pre✓® 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.