Seattle Airport Authorities Block Biometric Boarding Plan

“The moratorium will be in place until the commission is able to establish concrete policies concerning the use of facial recognition.”

Seattle Airport Authorities Block Biometric Boarding Plan

Administrators of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, or Sea-Tac, have implemented a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology in the parts of the airport over which they have jurisdiction, putting a halt to a Delta Air Lines plan to deploy a biometric boarding system at the airport.

The five-member Port of Seattle Commission reportedly reached its decision after hearing about privacy and civil rights concerns during a public comment process. The moratorium will be in place until the commission is able to establish concrete policies concerning the use of facial recognition.

Delta Air Lines had hoped to implement its biometric boarding system by the end of this year. The essential idea was to scan travelers’ faces and match their biometrics against a flight manifest and US Customs and Border Protection databases, allowing them to forego the need to present boarding passes and passports.

The project reflects a broader trend toward biometric passenger screening across the country and around the world, but the barrier it now faces at Sea-Tac represents a counter-trend as privacy and rights concerns over facial recognition technology continue to mount. And Sea-Tac’s location is likely not a coincidence, with much of the resistance to public deployments of biometric technology emerging in California, the site of so much AI development in recent years.

The CBP, meanwhile, is likely to press on with its own plans to install face-scanning technology at Sea-Tac next year, as part of its expanding biometric border control program. It has federal jurisdiction over certain parts of all US airports, and cannot be subject to regulation from the municipal level.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

December 11, 2019 – by Alex Perala