The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced the deployment of CAT-2 terminals for traveler verification at the Denver International Airport, underscoring the TSA’s commitment to supporting emerging digital IDs.
The next-generation Credential Authentication Technology terminals are designed to capture the traveler’s face image and compare it to their photo ID, thereby verifying the traveler’s identity and negating the need for the traveler to present a boarding pass. The CAT-2 terminals can also read state-issued digital driver’s licenses and IDs, with the functionality being rolled out shortly after Apple’s mobile ID system went live in Colorado.
In announcing the CAT-2 deployment, the TSA noted not only the launch of Apple’s MDL in Colorado, but also the earlier launch of the virtual driver’s license in Arizona and Maryland, adding, “Any traveler who has a state-issued digital ID in Apple Wallet can tap their iPhone or Apple Watch on a CAT-2 digital reader in lieu of providing a physical photo ID for identity verification.”
The digital readers – or at least some of them – have been provided to the TSA by IDEMIA, which has also developed its own rival mobile driver’s license solution even as it has supported the functionality of Apple’s. The security technology giant revealed its role in enabling the TSA to scan Apple’s MDLs after their debut in Arizona earlier this year, and its executives were celebrating the launch of CAT-2 readers more generally around the same time.
The TSA’s commentary on the digital readers’ functionality for ‘any traveler’ with a state-issued Apple MDL points to the agency’s commitment to enabling the use of virtual IDs as official proof of identity across state lines – a critical win for Apple as it seeks to establish the validity of its solution in the eyes of government and consumers alike. But the virtual IDs aren’t yet a bona fide replacement of their physical counterparts, with the TSA noting in its announcement that residents “should continue to carry their physical driver license or photo ID.”