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TSA Introduces Next Gen Credential Authentication at LAX

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has introduced new facial recognition technology to verify the identity of guests at some of the airport’s security checkpoints.

When entering the TSA screening area, guests may be asked to insert their government-issued photo ID into a next generation Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) unit, which is equipped with a camera that captures a photo of the guest. The CAT compares the guest’s facial features on their photo ID against the facial features from the in-person photo, confirming their identity. Guests will need to briefly adjust their face mask for the in-person photo.

Once the technology confirms a match, it will be verified by a TSA officer and the guest can proceed through the checkpoint without ever exchanging physical documents. TSA officers can perform additional passenger verification if needed.

“As a longtime partner with TSA on innovation, LAX has led the way in developing, testing and implementing new technology and procedures which enhance safety and streamline the guest experience,” said Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles World Airports. “By leaning further into the use of biometrics and the use of new technologies, we once again are setting new industry standards for safety, security and efficiency.”

“TSA is focused on the future of screening operations and leveraging enhanced capabilities of existing technologies to ensure the highest level of security effectiveness. With increased automation and reduced physical contact between travelers and TSA officers, this new identity verification process is a win for everyone,” said TSA Federal Security Director at LAX Keith Jeffries. “I am grateful for the leadership at LAX and their willingness to enthusiastically embrace the next generation of technologies throughout the airport.”

Photos captured by CAT units will not be stored or used for any other purpose than identity verification in the security checkpoint. Guests who do not wish to participate in facial recognition verification can opt out in favor of an alternative identity verification process. 

Currently, TSA is collecting data to measure the rate and accuracy of guest facial recognition and identity verification to help the agency evaluate the overall performance of the units in a busy security checkpoint environment. The results of this pilot will help determine the feasibility and potential deployment of the enhanced CAT units to other airports in the future.

CAT plays an important role in travel document verification. It improves a TSA officer’s ability to authenticate a guest’s photo identification while also identifying inconsistencies associated with fraudulent travel documents.

In its partnership with TSA, LAX has been at the forefront of implementing emerging security technologies, with a focus on innovation. In January 2021, TSA announced that LAX was the first airport in the country to be fully outfitted with first generation CAT units at all of the airport’s security screening checkpoints.

Read the announcement at TSA

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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