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Privacy concerns amid airport facial recognition tests

Your face may soon be the only thing you need to board a flight. Some airlines are already testing facial recognition technology[1] with the federal government. The idea is to ditch boarding passes and increase the certainty of a passenger’s identity. JetBlue flight 773 from Boston to Aruba is taking passengers’ pictures[2], sending them to a customs database and comparing them against passport photos, reports CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave.

If there is a match, you can board, which means you wouldn’t need a boarding pass, phone or passport. This trial of facial recognition technology by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and JetBlue aims to see if it can make the boarding process faster.

Privacy Concerns Amid Airport Facial Recognition Tests

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Facial recognition technology arrives at the airport

Delta and JetBlue are rolling out new ways to use the sophisticated technology on passengers, but not everyone is on board. Stacey Butler of CBS …

“You’re just going to walk up and take a picture and that’s it? It just amazes me, the technology,” said passenger Francis Sadowski. The system matches images to a government database of passport photos. JetBlue executive vice president Joanna Geraghty says it’s a seamless process.

“Customers are stressed when they’re traveling. Crew members get stressed as well,” Geraghty said. “We’re looking at how you reduce those friction points. How do you create an experience that doesn’t have any lines?”

“That is revolutionary in the airline industry, and Delta is right at the front of it,” said Gareth Joyce, Delta’s senior vice president.

Joyce tested a facial-recognition bag drop at Minneapolis’ airport. Passengers will be able to check luggage without an employee verifying their identity. The airline is also testing facial-recognition at boarding gates in New York and Atlanta.

“You can literally go from, you know, curb to plane without having to interact with a human being if you so desire,” Joyce said. But even as the technology speeds passengers through the airport, some fear it’s moving too fast.

Privacy Concerns Amid Airport Facial Recognition Tests

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CBS Evening News

Nearly half of Americans in facial recognition databases

Nearly half of American adults have their photos on file in facial recognition databases. Law enforcement’s use of the technology has some export…

“Implementation of the use of biometrics need to be scrutinized very closely,” said Jeramie Scott of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, who worries about the use of personal identifiers that cannot change.

“Increasingly, as we consolidate biometric data into big databases and we use it more and more, those databases will become targets, and the risk of data breach increases greatly,” Scott explained.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports it’s not using these devices to store photos of U.S citizens and insists privacy is a priority.

Meanwhile, for those long lines at security checkpoints, the TSA is testing fingerprints instead of IDs at two airports.

2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


  1. ^ already testing facial recognition technology (
  2. ^ Boston to Aruba is taking passengers’ pictures (

WATCH: Jersey Family Booted From JetBlue Plane Over Buttercream Birthday Cake

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A speech pathologist from Jersey City, New Jersey, posted video showing JetBlue staff allegedly kicking him, his wife and their two kids off of a plane bound for Las Vegas supposedly inspired by a disagreement over where to store a buttercream birthday cake. Cameron Burke told the NY Daily News[1] that on May 3, he and his family had planned to fly out of Kennedy Airport to Las Vegas, to celebrate his wife Minta s 40th birthday. Included in their carry-on luggage was a buttercream cake from Tonnie s Minis bakery[2] in New York. According to Burke, when the family boarded the plane, they stored the cake along with their other luggage in the overhead bin just before taking their last-row seats. Cameron Burke told the Daily News that A flight attendant nicely asked me to remove the cake from that compartment, so I moved it to another one. She then asked me to move it to underneath the seat in front of me, I did.

Then another flight attendant appeared, first with complaints for her colleague and then with complaints aimed at Burke.

She said I was being non-compliant, Burke says. I said, Miss, have you been drinking? Because her behavior was irrational and she stormed off. At that point, according to BUrke, a third airline employee told Burke and his family to get off the plane. That s when Burke took out his cell phone and started recording. The video starts with a couple seconds of unintelligible speech, then a security guard asking Has that since been resolved?

Mrs. Burke responded Yes! It s right here! and motioned toward the floor, where the cake presumably sat off-screen. Her crying little boy also motioned in the same direction and said It s right over there! After several second of silence, showing the Burke family sitting uneasily waiting for the matter to be resolved, a semi-intelligeble offscreen voice (presumably from security staff) said he couldn t see any wrongdoing, which led to Cameron Burke saying Thank you! Thank you! I moved the cake! It s a birthday cake. At the video s 1:35 mark, the security office is seen on the cellphone video, saying No one did anything wrong unfortunately, they re going to have to rebook everyone.

Rebook everyone? Burke asked incredulously.

We re trying to avoid that this is JetBlue, the security guard says.

Burke told the Daily News that the Burkes were kicked off the plane but their luggage was still flown to law Vegas, where Burke s mother-in-law picked it up.

But JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said the Burkes were at fault for storing the cake in a compartment set aside for emergency safety equipment, then refusing to move the cake when asked. The customers became agitated, cursed and yelled at the crew, and made false accusations about a crewmember s fitness to fly, McGraw said. (Despite McGraw s claim that the family stashed the cake in an overhead compartment and refused to move it when asked, by the time Burke recorded his video, the actions of the family and the security guards all seemed to indicate that the cake was on the floor under a seat.)

Burke has said he intends to file a lawsuit against JetBlue.

WATCH: Jersey Family Booted From JetBlue Plane Over Buttercream Birthday Cake

Daniel Goldstein: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know[3]

Daniel Goldstein is a Brooklyn lawyer who was kicked off a JetBlue flight for screaming at Ivanka Trump on a plane. Goldstein was with his husband, Matthew Lasner.

Click here to read more[4] WATCH: Jersey Family Booted From JetBlue Plane Over Buttercream Birthday CakeJennifer Abel is a Heavy contributor and former daily newspaper reporter whose work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Playboy, the Guardian, MSN and others. Email her at [email protected]
May 14, 2017 10:18 pm


  1. ^ NY Daily News (
  2. ^ Tonnie s Minis bakery (
  3. ^ Daniel Goldstein: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know (
  4. ^ Click here to read more (

Future tense – Winnipeg Free Press

IF your car lights up as you approach with the key fob or your home thermostat can be adjusted from your smartphone, you ve already been introduced in a small way to the Internet of Things. In simplest terms, the Internet of Things refers to a web of connectivity between machines, between sensors and machines and between it all and people. It s about automation. It s about real-time analytics. It s about saving money, saving time and, in some cases, saving lives. Sit back and buckle up, because what s coming is going to be a rip-roaring roller-coaster ride through technological change, ethical conundrums and immense opportunity.

“I would say it s probably happening far faster than anyone realizes,” said Daniel Burrus, a futurist, blogger, bestselling author and noted commentator on all things digital.

“The opportunities and disruptions are coming faster than anyone realizes. The curve is a straight vertical line.”

Today, it involves windows that tint themselves when the sun comes out or systems that allow employees access to their workplaces via smartphones but the possibilities go far beyond.

“I think we are only scratching the surface,” said Himanshu Khurana, director of global innovation for Honeywell Building Solutions in Minneapolis. While the bulk of applications appear to be commercial, Sean Banks, president of Winnipeg s K&S Electronics, which supplies whole-home audio and video equipment and alarm and home-automation systems, said the Internet of Things holds promise for average homeowners as well.

“We like to pride ourselves on one app for everything,” he said.

“So, you have full control of lighting from your smartphone, any audio-video equipment, so you can have all your equipment hidden, and from the same app you can control all those devices.”

Banks said home automation includes automatically closing or opening blinds as the sun moves across a home, turning on outside lights at dusk and adjusting thermostats based on the time of day.

“A lot of times when I m working, I feel like I m in the Jetsons,” he said, referring to the 1960s-era cartoon featuring a family in the future.

“We re definitely doing a lot of that cool stuff aside from flying cars, of course.”

Not here yet, but on display at electronics shows are such things as refrigerators that can be polled remotely to determine if you need to pick up groceries.

“We ve seen them and they re really cool they have barcode readers and track your inventory. But that s a few years away yet.”

Automation is the key trend for homeowners, said Scott Harkins, vice-president of Internet of Things partner program at Honeywell, from notifications that it s time to replace a furnace filter, to home systems that learn your habits and then cater to them.

“It s no longer about the in-app user experience, but all types of interactions,” he said. The first steps on the home front are systems such as Amazon s Echo, which brings to the home an experience not unlike what was foreseen in shows such as Star Trek.

“Essentially, you can just say, Hi Alexa, turn on the lights 50 per cent and the lights will turn on,” Banks said.

Burrus sees immense possibilities in how commercial buildings are managed, how retail environments deal with security and how marketers can manage retail displays in real time to maximize sales. Consider: today s security systems use cameras connected to monitors and recording devices. If a security guard isn t watching the right monitor at the right time, the best you can hope for is a recording after the fact to try to see a perpetrator s face. Yet, what are the possibilities if nobody needs to be watching the video for you to know a crime is underway?

Burrus said combining wireless cameras with cloud-based computing where data is processed at a central computing centre allows analytics to be applied to security footage in real time. First off, such a system could easily include profiles of known criminals, using facial recognition to tip off security. Secondly, such technology could also determine patterns of suspicious behaviour and alert security to take a closer look.

“It changes security from just capturing images to use after the fact to real-time analytics you can use for prevention,” Burrus said. Honeywell s Khurana takes it a step further, envisioning systems that let companies enhance the experiences of their customers.

Let s assume your company is an airline, with millions of passengers each year. Facial recognition technology could help your airline know when high-value clients have entered, offering the opportunity to reach out to those passengers and help them with baggage, directions, concierge services or check-in. Automatically.

“You might send him a text saying, Welcome to the airport. Just so you know, the lounge is across from Gate 9, ” Khurana said. Banks said Internet of Things technology is making its way to home alarm systems, as well, with cameras that can now distinguish between people or animals, and can tell the difference between movement an alarm needs to worry about and movement it can ignore.

“In the old days, your motion sensors would go off if leaves rustled,” he said. “Now, cameras can tell the difference.”

Not far away, Banks said, are home security cameras that can also use facial recognition. “It can unlock the door if your child comes home from school, or not, if it s a stranger.”

Sensors in the Internet of Things can include everything from cameras to devices that can detect plumbing leaks, electrical faults, the location and movement of people, temperature, water levels particularly in areas water shouldn t be gas leaks and unexpected movement in a structure. Khurana says such sensors could also help employees find empty conference rooms for meetings or direct customers who have arrived at the front door.

Perhaps more importantly, sensors could be invaluable in case of an emergency. Imagine an evacuation system where staff can use their smartphones to find the safe way out, or where rescue personnel can determine exactly where people are trapped. All these possibilities are not onerously expensive, either.

Burrus pointed out the technology is now driven by secure, cloud-based computing, and the sensors and cameras can all be wireless using even cheap 3G cellular technology or WiFi-like routing eliminating what was often a costly labour bill to run wires and opening these possibilities to owners of existing buildings.

Cybersecurity is a constant consideration, but Burrus said advances in that area are helping to combat hacking.

“In today s world of cybersecurity, the systems getting hacked are actually the older systems.

“If we could get rid of the old systems, we would make it far more difficult notice I didn t say impossible to hack systems.”

The many possibilities of cameras and facial recognition carry with them some important ethical considerations, said Prof. Arthur Schafer, an ethicist at the University of Manitoba.

“In each case, the issue of knowledge and consent seems relevant,” Schafer said.

“In other words, do these people know they re being singled out, either for surveillance or VIP treatment? Do they have an opportunity to consent?”

In the case of known criminals, Schafer asks: “If they have paid their debt to society, are merchants or building managers entitled to treat them prejudicially once they are living again in society?”

Questions also arise over how much information is being compiled, how it is used, whether it expires, who has access and will it be used to exploit individuals, Schafer said.

“You are describing what some would call a surveillance society, in which private corporations or governments hold vast amounts of data about individuals,” he said. “Critics sometimes label this the Big Brother Society.

“It s worrying.”

On the commercial side, and to some degree for homeowners, the rapid pace of change means planning not only for what we know now, but also for what we don t know.

“Things are changing so fast, we can t be building the buildings of today. We need to be building the buildings of tomorrow,” Burrus said.

[email protected]

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