FAA bill to impact security industry

Bill sets policies for not just drones but security technology as well
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Trump signed into law on Oct. 5, H.R. 302, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, a bill that provides a roadmap for FAA-related policies, programs and procedures that will impact the security industry in a number of ways, from the use of counter-drone measures to the expanded use of CCTV and biometric technology within airports.

Included in the new law is the Preventing Emerging Threats Act, which was a 2018 policy priority for the Security Industry Association, according to Joseph Hoellerer, government relations manager for SIA.

“Prior to the Preventing Emerging Threats Act being incorporated into the FAA reauthorization, there was a lot of legal uncertainty as to what DHS and DOJ could or could not do with counter-UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] technology and measures,” Hoellerer told Security Systems News, noting that the bill now provides DOJ and DHS with legal authority to counter UAS threats.

“It presents an opportunity for our members who specialize in the counter-UAS space to work with DHS and DOJ, hopefully getting their technology procured by those two governmental entities,” said Hoellerer. It is SIA’s hope, he added, that this legislation also starts the conversation about giving commercial entities similar authority to counter UAS threats.

The new law also clarifies that FAA has legal authority to regulate all UAS aircraft, which now includes hobbyist UAS. In addition, the bill requires that the FAA streamline the waiver process for UAS operators and manufacturers, which wasn’t always the case in the past, Hoellerer pointed out.

The bill also continues funding at the current level of $3.35 billion for The AIP grant program, the primary source of federal funding for airports. This includes the Secure Airport Public Spaces Act, a SIA 2018 policy priority, which specifically allows the use of AIP grant funds to install video surveillance systems outside TSA-screened zones. Previously such grants were only authorized for such use inside these zones. “This is another good provision and opportunity for our members who specialize in video surveillance equipment,” Hoellerer noted.

In regard to the use of security technologies, the law directs TSA and U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to better coordinate biometrics projects, including biometric entry/exit, trusted traveler programs (PreCheck and Global Entry) and facial recognition readers.

“It appears now that TSA and CBP are going to be on the same page as it relates to biometric technologies they are going to look to implement, whether that is facial recognition readers or fingerprint readers,” Hoellerer said. “It is good to know that they will be having discussions on what the steps should be from start to finish.” With Dulles Airport launching its Facial Recognition program, Hoellerer said he expects to see other airports taking note and adopting similar technology as well.

In regard to airport perimeter and access control security, the new law also directs TSA to update its Transportation Sector Security Risk Assessment to reflect changes to the risk environment relating to airport access control points and airport perimeters, as well as conduct a system-wide assessment of airport access control points and airport perimeter security, he said.