Biden wants your next airport visit to include a face scan. That’s a huge threat to your freedom

In December, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency within Biden’s Department of Homeland Security, acknowledged it has significantly expanded facial recognition technology at security checkpoints in airports across the United States. 

Under the expanded program, 16 of the nation’s largest airports are now using face scans as a way to verify the identities of travelers, including in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles. The TSA’s initial test facial recognition program started under the Trump administration in 2017. 

The system asks passengers to insert a photo identification into a security kiosk and then look at a camera. After a few seconds pass, the machine uses artificial intelligence to compare the face scan with the photo ID. If the system says the two match, the passenger can move forward to his or her gate. If a potential mismatch is identified, a human TSA agent will determine whether to deny access to the traveler. Eventually, humans will be removed from the verification process altogether. 


If the new program is deemed successful, TSA plans to expand facial recognition at airports nationwide, making it one of the largest efforts to collect advanced biometric data of law-abiding citizens in US history.

The Biden administration says that biometric technology like facial recognition can “enhance security effectiveness, operational efficiency, and the passenger experience,” and in some respects, it most certainly could.

TSA administrator David Pekoske says his agency has found that the facial recognition algorithm is more accurate than human TSA agents, and TSA claims that eventually facial recognition could be combined with government databases to eliminate the need for carrying an ID at the airport completely. But as convenient and effective the program could become, it poses substantial long-term threats to individual liberty that far outweigh its possible benefits. 

The TSA says it will not keep the data associated with most travelers’ facial scans, although some will be retained to test the system’s effectiveness and for law enforcement. And the TSA further promises that under the current iteration of the program, it will allow travelers to opt out of the facial scans entirely. But there is no guarantee that these policies will remain permanently in place, and there are no federal laws that would prevent the TSA from storing biometric data in the future. 

Allowing the TSA to collect and potentially store facial scans would make it much easier for government to track citizens’ every move in the years to come, and it could open the door to significant abuses of power and privacy risks. This might sound like a wild conspiracy theory or plot from a science fiction movie, but authoritarian regimes around the world are already using facial recognition to limit freedom. 

For example, the Chinese government uses on a daily basis its vast surveillance state coupled with facial recognition to track and control its massive population, as part of its social credit system. In Hong Kong in 2019, facial recognition was one of the most important tools used by the China’s Communist Party to rein in protesters seeking to retain personal liberties. 

Similarly, in Russia, Vladimir Putin’s ruthless government has repeatedly used facial recognition to keep tabs on protesters and political opponents. In some cases, Putin’s agents have even used facial recognition to help government agents arrest critics. 


Biden is not nearly as authoritarian as the Communist Party of China or Vladimir Putin, of course, but there is no guarantee that he or rogue agents in the federal government won’t abuse facial recognition technology if given the opportunity. And who knows what a future administration might do when given such a powerful tool? 

The U.S. government has already in recent years been caught on numerous occasions unjustly spying on Americans. For example, in 2022, Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden alleged that the Phoenix office of the Homeland Security Investigations had been illegally issuing customs summits to gain access to citizens’ financial data — all without approval from a court. More than 6 million records were allegedly made available to law enforcement agents under potentially illegal subpoenas. 

The Homeland Security Investigations agency, like the TSA, is housed under the Department of Homeland Security. 

There are times when privacy must be limited in order to enhance security, but there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Biden’s current expansion of facial recognition is one of those moments. Traveling by air is one of the safest forms of transportation in the United States today, and despite there having been very little facial recognition used over the past two decades, we have yet to see a single major terrorist attack involving airplanes since September 11, 2001. Why, then, is it so important for government to use facial recognition to improve safety? 

It is essential for the perseveration of a free society for citizens to have greater control over their government than that government has over citizens. The balance of power has in recent decades been tilting in favor of government, and this move by the Biden administration would undoubtedly continue that disturbing trend. It must be stopped immediately. 


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