Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Faces are Being Scanned at US Airports with No Safeguards on Data Use

Taking a flight soon? A great convenience may be available to you: step up to the boarding gate, get your photo taken, and proceed onto the plane. There is no paper ticket or airline app. Thanks to facial recognition technology, your face can become your boarding pass. In fact, the photos are already being taken without your knowledge or permission at some airports although those photos have not yet replaced boarding passes.

However, there is a privacy and security problem with that: few companies participating in the program, called the Traveler Verification Service, give explicit guarantees that passengers’ facial recognition data will be protected. In fact, we can assume that Big Brother government agencies are already tracking your travel. If past history is any indication, hackers, government contractors, and foreign governments also will eventually gain access to that information (either legally or illegally) and your private movements will soon be known by all sorts of people and agencies without any controls.

The Department of Homeland Security is already using the data to track foreigners overstaying their visas, according to the New York Times. “After passengers’ faces are scanned at the gate, the scan is sent to Customs and Border Protection and linked with other personally identifying data, such as date of birth and passport and flight information.”

But the face scans are collected by independent companies, and Border Protection officials insist they have no control over how that data gets used.

The scary details may be found at:

Categories: Offline Privacy & Security

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