TSA to Scan ID's and Travel Documents

Automated Travel Document Scanning Devices

If you’re flying out of Washington Dulles (IAD), Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH), or San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may have an expensive treat (or trick) to dazzle you.

The agency we’ve all grown to love, or for some, a love-hate relationship, is deploying a combined “Credential Authentication Technology” along with a “Boarding Pass Scanning System” in one unit.  As with any US government agency, this new technology already has an acronym where the device is simply known as the CAT/BPSS.  At least the acronym is better than SSSS, which happen to be the four letters you never want to see on your boarding pass.

As you provide your ID and boarding pass to the TSA document checker, instead of it being examined by human eye, both your ID and boarding pass will be machine scanned.

TSA Spokesman, Bob Burns, said, “this technology will scan a passenger’s boarding pass and photo ID, and automatically verify the names provided on both documents and then match and authenticate the boarding pass. The technology also identifies altered or fraudulent photo IDs by analyzing and comparing security features embedded in the IDs.”

The TSA has said once the scans are completed, the system will automatically and permanently delete the scan.

Whether you realize it or not most ID’s today are machine readable whether you’re using a state drivers license, a passport, or any of the other approved government ID cards on a list that is known to change hourly at some airports.  Some states go as far as to issue drivers licenses with both bar codes and a readable magnetic strip on back.

Each of the three airports are getting six of these devices, so don’t be disappointed if you endure the old inspection where the TSA employee pulls out the loupe and blacklight to examine your documents.

It is not known how much these devices cost or what will happen with minor name mis-matches.  What happens if your ID reads Michael but your boarding pass, or secure flight information, submitted by a friend who purchased your ticket says Mike?

Burns concluded, “If testing is successful, TSA could deploy the technology to airports nationwide.”

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