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Fingerprints replace boarding passes and ID

June 16, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The breakthrough outlined in the headline is already happening in the US, where the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has started using biometric fingerprint technology that lets fingerprints serve as both proof of identification and boarding pass.

The new technology will, in theory, cut down queuing and make check-in faster.  If it works well, it could eventually spell the end of passports, which are, after all, just a form of identification.

The TSA this week started a four-week live trial of its PreCheck fingerprint ID program at two big US airports: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Denver International Airport.

The TSA confirmed that its “proof of concept demonstration” aimed to evaluate the “operational and security impact of using biometrics to verify passengers’ identities using their fingerprints”.

TSA technician sets up biometric authentication technology. Instagram

Biometric authentication lets a traveller’s fingerprints 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 travellers. That’s the catch – the travellers have to place their fingerprints on file electronically, which they can do by enrolling in the TSA PreCheck program.

That means firstly that the program is voluntary, and secondly that it’s currently just available in the US and not to international travellers. It is seen, however, as the way of the future, coming soon to an airport near you.

“TSA looks at technologies and intelligence capabilities that allow us to analyse and secure the travel environment, passengers and their property,” the TSA’s acting assistant administrator, Steve Karoly, commented.

“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 traveller access into the security checkpoint through an electronic gate,” the TSA said.

“The long term” often turns out to be sooner than many people think.

Written by Peter Needham

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