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Your Face May Soon Be Your Ticket. Not Everyone Is Smiling

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Facial recognition technology will increasingly offer travelers shorter lines and fewer documents to juggle, but all that convenience may have a cost, warned Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

As the use of facial recognition technology spreads, some experts worry about the risks to travelers’ privacy and security.

Credit: Adrian A. Astorgano

You may not have to fumble with your cellphone in the boarding area very much longer. As the travel industry embraces facial recognition technology, phones are beginning to go the way of paper tickets at airports, cruise terminals and theme parks, making checking in more convenient, but raising privacy and security concerns, too.

"Before Covid it felt like a future thing," said Hicham Jaddoud, a professor of hospitality and tourism at the University of Southern California, describing the way contactless transactions have become common since the pandemic. That includes facial recognition, which is "now making its way into daily operations" in the travel industry, Dr. Jaddoud said.

Facial recognition systems are already being expanded at some airports. At Miami International, for example, cameras at 12 gates serving international flights match passengers' faces to the passport photographs they have on file with the airlines, letting passengers at those gates board without showing physical passports or boarding passes. The company installing the systems, SITA, has been contracted to do the same for a number of international gates in 10 other U.S. airports, including Boston Logan International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport. (Passengers can opt out and still present physical documents instead, SITA says.)

From The New York Times
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