The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) appears to be committed to the idea of accepting mobile-based digital IDs from travelers in the future.
The signal comes by way of a new Request for Proposals concerning the provision of Next Generation Credential Authentication Technology (CAT2) systems and support services.
Essentially, the TSA is looking for a contractor to develop the next iteration of its passenger identification system for airports. As reported on FindBiometrics, the TSA is looking for a kiosk or similar apparatus through which operators can perform biometric matches between passengers and their identity documents, and assess any abnormalities flagged by the system.
The TSA’s Request for Proposals goes into considerable detail about its immediate needs for the CAT2 system, but it’s in the organization’s forward-looking comments that the TSA offers hints about the mobile ID future. In a sections detailing “Elements of System Enhancements” that could take place over the proposed seven-year contract, the TSA asserts that it “anticipates system enhancements to include a digital ID authentication capability (such as a mobile driver’s license)” in future software development cycles.
It’s a glancing reference, but an important one, given its presence in an official government RFP. The TSA is very clearly signalling that it expects MDL technology to play a prominent role in passenger identification in the future, and it is making it clear to its prospective CAT2 contractors that they will need to facilitate the development as part of their obligations to the TSA.
The TSA is, in fact, already accepting Apple’s mobile IDs at one location: the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. Residents who have uploaded their identity documents to Apple’s MDL solution are able to use their iPhones or Apple Watches to confirm their IDs in the airport’s screening process.
IDEMIA provided the Credential Authentication Technology readers for that particular deployment, and so the French IT and security solutions multinational would seem to have its foot in the door as the TSA seeks a partner for its CAT2 project. That having been said, any interested party can submit a proposal in response to the TSA’s RFP up until 2:00pm EST on September 30.