TSA Electronic Document Checkers Pilot Raises Significant Questions

The Transportation Security Administration has started a pilot project designed to test and evaluate the usefulness of new technology aimed at helping better ensure the identity of passengers by comparing and verifying their boarding passes and IDs. The pilot program, which will last several months, will be tested initially at three airports: Dulles International, near Washington D.C., George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and the San Juan airport in Puerto Rico. The initial program will test 30 machines, manufactured by three different vendors.
The machines, which cost about $100,000 each, are designed to scan the boarding passes as well as both sides of the personal, photo ID of passengers, compare the two and determine if there is a discrepancy between the two. If there is a discrepancy, a TSA agent will be able to examine possible reasons for it.
TAL Global welcomes the TSA’s efforts to increase transportation security. Our Aviation Security and Counter Terrorism Division analyzes each such effort, to identify vulnerabilities, enable ongoing due diligence of both defenders and terrorists’ evolving strategies, develop the modeling, testing and training tools and implement them in the field. The result is a unique interdisciplinary approach, focused on reducing the risk associated with the intelligent and adaptive threat of terrorism to critical infrastructure, particularly commercial aviation.

Here, for example, are some of the questions that we ask ourselves at this point, and that we think the TSA should also consider:

1. How does this new verification program enhance the TSA’s “risk-based” and “intelligence-driven” mission?

2. Considering costs for installation, maintenance, ongoing training and upgrades, is this a cost-effective solution?

3. Does the technology allow for adaptive responses by our adversaries as they attempt to develop compromises in the form of sophisticated fraudulent documents?

4.How will this technology affect resource allocation as it relates to future TSA staff deployment?

5. Why does this technology lack a biometric component?

What do you think?

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