sparking privacy fears
- Katie Byrne for Fox News
- 4 Feb 2020, 12:43
- Updated: 4 Feb 2020, 14:22
FACIAL recognition technology is being used in an increasing number of airports around the world to speed up the time it takes for passengers to go through security.
But it comes with growing concern over privacy as it’s revealed photos of travellers could be stored for up to 75 years.
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is the latest to roll out the technology in the US.
At PHL, the machines are set up at three international gates. Passengers will step up to the machines and have their faces scanned before boarding their flight. CBP officials say it takes less than two seconds and has a 99 percent matching rate.
Jeni Best, a branch manager with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explained: “So, this is an electronic way, basically, to verify identity.”
“It reduces your impostor threat, and it provides a secure and efficient way to verify identity.”
According to Jeni, the ultimate goal is for the machines to eliminate the need to show passport – but some people fear the technology threatens their privacy.
Paul Hudson, president of the nonprofit Flyers Rights, has been working for the airline passenger advocacy group for more than 20 years and his concern is where the photos from the machines end up.
CBP officials say all photos of US citizens are deleted within 12 hours, but photos of non-US citizens can be stored on CBP systems for up to 75 years.
Paul said: “It’s really a very big deal. The databases are, first of all, are not immune to hacking.”
But CPB’s Jeni explained: “[IT] is a practice that CBP already has in place for all visitors.”
Paul thinks more research needs to be done.
He said: “Before you do something like this, there needs to be a buy-in by a large majority of the population.”
Passenger Ellyn Phair agrees.
She said: “I’d have to think about it for a little bit.
“There are so many things going on with hacks on the computer systems and that is increasing these days, so I feel like that could be a problem.”
At least 27 airports in 16 states and D.C. are using facial recognition technology. In Philadelphia, the machines are part of a pilot program, so passengers have the ability to opt out of using them.
Jeni said: “They just let either the gate agent know or the CBP officer.”
But opting out isn’t as easy as it seems.
Paul said: “Based on research I’ve seen, only two per cent actually opt out, so that would indicate that people either don’t understand it or […] it’s too bothersome to deal with.”
Angelo Reid, who has been working at PHL for more than 40 years, said: “Right now, it’s an experiment.”
He thinks face scanners are just another way to keep people safe.
Angelo added: “Just like anything else, people will grow into it. They’ll get used to it. And they’ll realise it’s for their own safety.”
At PHL, the face scanners are running as a pilot program for 45 days. Once the program ends in early March, the airport will likely decide whether to implement them long-term.
Watch video and full content here : https://www.thesun.ie/travel/5061520/airports-keep-our-photos-from-facial-recognition-scanners-for-75-years-sparking-privacy-fears/