As a nation whose entire ethos is constructed around the prospects of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we must always be willing to protect ourselves from those with more power, money, or resources than ourselves.
This is the American Dream, after all; that the big guys won’t have an advantage over the hard-working and industrious among us. That any one of us could, through hard work and talent, make something of ourselves that rivals even the most successful schemes abroad.
In this effort, we must utilize every aspect of our guaranteed freedoms, including that of our right to privacy – something that has come under attack repeatedly in recent years, particularly due to the advent of high level technologies to track and identify us.
Now, one of our nation’s elected leaders is taking aim at this very issue, imploring that facial recognition technology be barred from our nation’s airports immediately.
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During a hearing Thursday held by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Security, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., brought up the coming ubiquity of facial recognition technologies and warned against moving forward without sufficient protections for the data being collected, as well as the civil liberties of travelers.
“As we work to keep pace with emerging threats to aviation travel, civil liberties cannot be an afterthought,” Markey said. “The public lacks enforceable rights and rules to protect travelers’ privacy and address unique threats that TSA’s biometric data collection poses to our civil liberties.”
Markey leveled a series of questions at Denver International Airport Chief Operations Officer Chris McLaughlin, using him as a sounding board for the senator’s concerns.
“Do you agree that any collection of Americans’ biometric information at airports should always be voluntary?” Markey asked.
“Yes, I do,” McLaughlin replied.
Markey went even further, however.
Markey called on TSA to halt deployment of facial recognition tech—such as the ongoing pilot at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport—until officially policies are set in place.
“TSA should stop using these invasive tools in the absence of formal rules that reflect our values and protect our privacies,” he said. “I call upon the agency to formalize these rules. It’s absolutely essential. We should not be moving forward until we’ve decided what those protections are going to be.”
Facial recognition technology has a great many avenues for abuse, particularly when it comes to its use by government agencies such as the incompetent TSA.
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