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Unchecked Checkpoints: Why TSA’s Facial Recognition Plan May Need Congressional Approval

Posted by on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Notes, Volume 26, Issue 4.

Robert Lowell | 26 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 833 (2024)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun using facial recognition technology (FRT) to screen passengers at airports. Although travelers can currently opt out, it is not clear that this will continue to be an option as the program expands. This raises significant concerns about the amount of personally identifiable information being collected by the agency, as well as the level of discretion the agency has to implement this increasingly invasive technology without input from Congress. This Note proposes that, in light of the United States Supreme Court’s shift away from its deferential Chevron standard for reviewing agency action, litigators can and should argue that the TSA’s program ought to be struck down. Furthermore, it concludes that, regardless of whether the TSA’s program would be invalidated in court, Congress should step in and pass legislation guiding the agency’s adoption of FRT. Although much has been written about the Court’s evolving Chevron-deference jurisprudence, this Note contributes to the discussion by applying this analysis to the TSA’s potentially problematic new FRT program.

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