Yesterday, Fight for the Future took a step in the fight against mass surveillance by launching AirlinePrivacy.com, – a flight-booking site that has one main goal – helping people find safe alternatives to airlines that partake in facial recognition program.
If you took a flight at JetBlue in the last year you’ve probably noticed something new. MacKenzie Fegan sure has, as JetBlue decided to replace boarding passes with facial recognition. Her tweet about the issue went viral as more and more people started pointing out how insane is it that some private airline company has your biometric data.
I just boarded an international @JetBlue flight. Instead of scanning my boarding pass or handing over my passport, I looked into a camera before being allowed down the jet bridge. Did facial recognition replace boarding passes, unbeknownst to me? Did I consent to this?
— MacKenzie Fegan (@mackenzief) April 17, 2019
How do they know your face and what you look like? JetBlue replied to MacKenzie on Twitter telling her that the biometric data is provided by the Department of Homeland Security.
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The information is provided by the United States Department of Homeland Security from existing holdings.
— JetBlue (@JetBlue) April 17, 2019
This is a direct assault to your privacy as it only takes six seconds to get your face scanned after which it’s stored for a minimum of 12 hours if you are a US citizen, if not a US citizen it will be saved within DHS servers forever.
One more issue when it comes to face-scanning is the fact that it can never be 100% correct, as we have previously seen with mobile devices that use face recognition.
To combat this issue AirlinePrivacy.com provides detailed explanations about what the Airlines actually are doing and what it means to you as a passenger. Once you’re on the website you have the choice to tweet airline services, to help the cause and force them to stop the face-surveillance before it becomes common.
You are also given a list of surveillance-free airlines and the ability to book flights directly from the website. Some of the websites that use facial recognition are Delta, American Airlines, British Airways, and Lufthansa with main focus on JetBlue.
As many people have complained, it is inconvenient and it just doesn’t feel right. It not only removes the human factor, the airline’s staff, but it also makes you feel like livestock that gets scanned without consent. The idea itself that private companies have access to your biometric data is even scarier. It begs the question: “Who else has access to the scans of my face?”.
This is a fairly young issue and force-stopping it now is the best option because if it goes mainstream no one will be able to stop them.