TSA Plans to Push Digital IDs in 2024

(RightWing.org) – In mid-December 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order (XO-14058) “transforming federal customer experience” as part of an effort to “rebuild trust in government.” The directive included several government-wide changes and directed the Homeland Security Secretary to “test the use of [emerging] technologies at airport security checkpoints to reduce [pre-boarding] wait times.” The TSA recently revealed its plan to expand the use of digital forms of identification in 2024.

On January 16, the TSA published an overview of the impact of the agency’s High-Impact Service Provider Plan (HISP) on customer experience (CX) for 2023. The two-page 2023 HISP CX Action Plan also discussed its planned updates for 2024.

The list of the TSA’s commitments for this year included its plan to expand the agency’s mobile driver’s license (mDL) pilot program to include two additional states. For those unfamiliar with the term, an mDL is a digital copy of a person’s driver’s license provisioned to a mobile device through state-operated and platform-specific apps. An mDL contains the same information as a person’s physical driver’s license but updates on their devices in real-time.

The TSA currently accepts mDLs for “limited testing and evaluation services from several states. They include mDLs from the following states:

  • California: through the California Department of Motor Vehicles Wallet App
  • Utah and Iowa mDLs and identification cards through their Mobile ID apps
  • Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Maryland using wallet apps operated by Apple and Google
  • Arizona mDLs are also available through Samsung Wallet.

The TSA’s pilot program operates at 28 airports scattered across 20 states. They include large international airports like Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, LaGuardia, Ronald Reagan Washington, and Phoenix Sky Harbor. Several domestic airports are also testing the system in Detroit and Ceder Rapids, Iowa.

Transportation officials also plan to expand the use of facial recognition technology through the TSA PreCheck program. Currently, the agency is testing the system at two airlines located in five airports. The TSA plans to add one airline and five airport locations in 2024. The system scans passengers’ faces at airports and compares those images to the ones on their physical or digital ID to confirm their identity.

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