Digital rights group launches privacy comparison site that enables flight booking for airlines without facial recognition boarding.
Today, Fight for the Future launched AirlinePrivacy.com, an online scorecard and flight booking site that lists which airlines are currently using facial recognition technology and which ones aren’t. The page allows users to directly book flights with privacy-conscious airlines and to sound the alarm by tweeting at the companies who do use facial recognition asking them to end these programs.
The campaign highlights JetBlue and its contract with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), but expands its focus to include all airlines that have decided to use controversial facial recognition technology.
AirlinePrivacy.com was launched after over 57,000 people have already signed petitions from Fight for the Future, Demand Progress and CREDO Action calling on JetBlue to drop their biometric boarding program and care about their customer’s privacy.
The campaign is growing after news that JetBlue expanded a biometric boarding program that scans passengers’ faces before letting them on to international flights. JetBlue volunteered as an early adopter of a Department of Homeland Security program mandated by a Trump executive order that aims to introduce facial recognition to all outgoing international flights. Backlash started after a journalist posted their story on twitter. JetBlue responded to this passenger with vague answers and press talking points that did not address how this program is running, where data is collected, or a clear opt-out plan. Facial recognition is increasingly becoming a topic of conversation and is so controversial that San Francisco already banned it, and there is growing bipartisan agreement in Congress to ban or pause it at the federal level.
Leaders from this effort issued these statements:
"Imagine a world where you would get your face scanned not only to fly but to do every day things like pay for groceries. Facial recognition technology does not make us more safe, it creates a world with no privacy whatsoever. This kind of tech has also been proven to be faulty and biased. JetBlue and all airlines that are using this technology put us in real danger by violating our privacy. Biometric boarding programs have no place in our airports" said Jelani Drew, campaigner at Fight for the Future.
"Requiring facial scanning before boarding a flight isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s a creepy and alarming invasion of our privacy. These airlines continue to dodge important questions about who, in the airline industry and in the government, will have access to passengers’ biometric data, for how long, and to what ends? This is an appalling attack on privacy and basic rights by JetBlue and we need to stop it now before it becomes the new normal," said Tihi Hayslett, Senior Campaigner at Demand Progress.
"JetBlue is an early adopter of a DHS plan that violates our privacy without making us safer,” said Brandy Doyle, Campaign Manager at CREDO Action. “Airlines should be pushing back against this program to protect their passengers, not rushing into a new world of ubiquitous surveillance and unchecked data-sharing.”