Merkley: TSA’s Facial Recognition Regime Continues to Lack Proper Congressional Oversight

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today issued the following statement after the Senate voted last night to pass the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act without a vote on his amendment to address the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) use of facial recognition technology:

“Facial surveillance creates the foundation for a national surveillance state, and everyone who values privacy, freedom, and our civil rights should be concerned about the increasing, unchecked use of facial recognition technology by the federal government. As I worked with other Senate negotiators to develop a compromise proposal governing TSA’s use of facial recognition, it became abundantly clear that the end goal for TSA is to make facial recognition mandatory for all American air travelers and that the current opt-out system will end. I will keep working to safeguard Americans’ right to privacy and protect against the dangers of a national surveillance state.”

Merkley previously led a bipartisan group of 13 Senate colleagues in a letter to Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell to urge them to take up this privacy issue in the FAA bill. Last year, he introduced the Ley de protección de la privacidad del viajero with Senators John Kennedy (R-LA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to restrict the use of facial recognition technology by the TSA at airports across the United States.