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Transportation Businesses Privacy Security Technology

Your Face or Fingerprint Could Soon Replace Your Plane Ticket (washingtonpost.com) 89

Headed on a trip? You may soon be able to ditch your boarding pass in favor of your fingers or face. From a report: Delta announced, on Wednesday, a new biometric identification pilot program that will eventually let you use your fingerprints instead of a plane ticket (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). That followed a JetBlue announcement hours earlier that it is testing a program in Boston that will match pictures of customers' faces with the passport database maintained by U.S. Custom and Border Protections. Delta's program, which kicked off at Washington's Reagan National Airport, is in partnership with Clear, a company that already lets customers skip to the front of security lines without identification.
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Your Face or Fingerprint Could Soon Replace Your Plane Ticket

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  • Security Is All Set (Score:3, Informative)

    by micahraleigh ( 2600457 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @11:46AM (#54526397)
    If your finger prints get stolen, just get some new fingers.

    Simple !
    • My own sister has trouble telling my brother and I apart and we aren't even twins. Not so much now that we wear our hair different but when we did people, even family, would would always mistake us.

      Facial recognition is a joke.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @01:12PM (#54527343)

        Depending on the resolution of the camera and the training of the software's neural nets, the facial recognition can actually do much better than a person. There's a lot of stuff our brains just don't focus on, and there's a lot of detail that's too small for our eyes to really notice from any sort of distance, but a good enough camera will capture.

        Of course also entirely possible for someone who knows enough about any particular software and how its been trained to trick it, as you can find plenty of demonstrations of if you google around a bit. And its also entirely possible for two people to really look similar enough that the software can't tell. And finally there will always be those edge cases that the software just wasn't trained on well enough and will confuse it.

        But FR isn't really a joke anymore. We tend to think that people are 100% accurate at recognizing faces (police lineups and the such are based on this assumption) but the data shows that its really not true -- we're actually fairly bad at it.

        But we have a few tricks to compensate: First, we only really pay attention to the faces of people we know. If we look at a picture with 10 people in it, we see John and Sarah whom we know, and 8 "others" that we don't know and don't care about. That's perfectly fine for our day to day activities where we mostly tend to ignore anyone we're not directly interacting with, but it doesn't do so great when you need to match a face against "one of 100,000 people."

        The other trick we use is extra contextual information. If we know for sure that Sarah's at home and we go to the mall, any time we see someone who looks at Sarah, we can immediately shut it out because we know its not her (and of course if she changed her mind and DID come to the mall, this can lead us to not immediately recognizing someone we should be able to.) We can also use context such as knowing what kind of wardrobe our friends wear, the hairstyles they tend to prefer, etc. Our brains put all of this together to come up with a whole picture that just a headshot doesn't give us.

        And of course if all else fails, we're really good at convincing ourselves its not our fault -- the light hit the person in a strange way or oh my goodness John has that exact same t-shirt or any of a dozen other excuses for why we just flat out got it wrong (we tend to do this for all failures of mental process of course, not just facial recognition -- our brains are wired to not admit our own faults.)

        Anyway that turned out a lot more long-winded than I'd planned..

    • You're missing the point. Your face or fingerprint are going to replace your ticket; and now if they are going to take away your ticket, they will take away your face or finger instead.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's not how it works. They'll tear your finger or your face in half, and then leave you the half with your seat number on it.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday June 01, 2017 @11:46AM (#54526401)

    Is this where the TSA slams you to the ground and drags you on the flight?.

    • The people they work for are pretty hard up for biometric data these days (that's a joke; they've got plenty). I can just imagine some Smeagol looking guy in the basement of an intelligence agency hugging a Facebook sever with clothing made out of cellphones and henna tattoos shaped like fingerprints and saying "my precious."
    • "It was like that time I hired that Bangkok prostitute to do my taxes, while I fucked my accountant"

      In Soviet Russia, accountant fucks you ... no, wait, that's true everywhere.

    • Just be sure not to shave before attempting to board. The beard (or lack thereof) might throw off their face reader. Plus, if reaching epic level, it could provide some minor cushion for the blow.

    • Here I thought bleeding was a United airlines thing.

  • by blahbooboo ( 839709 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @11:53AM (#54526465)

    Tickets and electronic tickets work fine. This isn't an issue. How about give us more space on the planes instead of spending money on this stuff?

    • "How about give us more space on the planes ... ?" Blame capitalism and efficient markets. If people buy airplane tickets by choosing the cheapest prices, the airlines will provide the cheapest prices. If that means standing-room only, you're getting exactly what you paid for.
      • If they feel they can get away with even less space they'll charge the same ticket price and improve their profits. You're not getting what you paid for, you're getting the minimum they can get away with giving you.
      • by judoguy ( 534886 )

        "How about give us more space on the planes ... ?" Blame capitalism and efficient markets. If people buy airplane tickets by choosing the cheapest prices, the airlines will provide the cheapest prices. If that means standing-room only, you're getting exactly what you paid for.

        And that's all I ask of any retail transaction. I fly to Europe from the Midwest 2-3 times a year. My last flight from Paris was in a microscopic seat with a video screen only slightly larger than my phone.

        But I paid less that $500 for the round trip. I looked at that $500 in 1980 dollars and it came to about $158. It's gotten cheaper over the years as it's gotten more crowded.

        If you want cheap, you get cheap. If you are willing to pay more, you get more room. I like having options.

    • They already offer more space, but you have to pay for it. Try premium economy or first class next time.
    • You just [united.com] have to pay a slightly [delta.com] higher fare for the larger seats [aa.com].

      If you refuse to pay a little extra for the extra legroom, well you've just demonstrated why the airlines are prioritizing lower fares over more space.
    • Pardon me while I chuckle gently. This [businessinsider.com] is the way it is going to be, my poor innocent child.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Tickets and electronic tickets work fine. This isn't an issue. How about give us more space on the planes instead of spending money on this stuff?

      This, a QR code can be read in less than a second, biometrics take longer. Australia has had biometric "smart gates" at incoming immigration at most airport, it takes at least 30 seconds to get a reliable read and match it to the biometric information on your passport. Sure this is preferable because it takes a human customs official 2 minutes to do the same job and you can have all gates open all the time. However with tickets and boarding passes this will just slow things down.

      At Heathrow, almost all

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Right now you can board pretty much any flight without presenting an ID past the security desk. All you need is for someone to hand you their boarding pass past security. All you need to get past security is a boarding pass on any flight at that airport on that day and your ID.

    This is a way to make sure that only the person whose name is on the boarding pass can actually get onto the plane.

  • Before their database of face hashes is hacked by nefarious jerks who will then sell it to the highest bidder?

    While not necessarily technically 100% accurate, you get the drift....

  • How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @12:05PM (#54526587)

    Now they can just use the fingerprints they have on file to unlock your phone during their all-too-common border searches, rather than having to rely on your cooperation.

    • Already posted my mandatory snark, or i'd +1. There is a great deal to fear from the widespread use/trust of biometrics, and this is only one part of the issue.
    • OTOH, some of us are in the fingerprint database anyway (work in healthcare). They can already do this to me, so I might as well enjoy the benefits. It's not that hard to wipe your stored fingerprints before going through a checkpoint and reprogram them later. I ended up getting Global Entry (Trusted Traveler is included, I always get the PreCheck line) and a concealed carry permit.
    • I've been fingerprinted for two jobs so far. (Both totally legit, to be honest about it. I wouldn't have taken them if it wasn't.) Call me paranoid, but due to this I don't use my fingerprint to unlock my phone.

  • ... oh my you are handsome... Just smile into this camera for me, and I promise that your faceprint will never be stolen by hackers. =)
  • After all, the CIA shouldn't be the only folks with one, that's money left on the table.

    It wil only be sold to nice people like airlines, of course!

  • by bluegutang ( 2814641 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @12:17PM (#54526709)

    They already don't check ID at the gate. They just scan the boarding pass (NOT "plane ticket") like you would scan a bar code in a supermarket. How would getting your face scanned be any faster than this?

    If you want to speed up the boarding process, you could just have more gate agents scanning boarding passes. But this probably wouldn't help, because usually the bottleneck is on the plane, where passengers are finding their seats and loading the overhead compartments. Frequently there is a line in the jetway of passengers whose boarding passes have been scanned, who are waiting for a chance to get into the plane.

    If you really wanted to speed boarding, you would add a second jetway entrance at the back end of the plane, to double the rate at which people could board.

    A simpler fix would be to board the last few rows in the plane first rather than last, so that passengers storing their bags above rows 1-10 wouldn't block passengers who want to get to rows 11-30.

    • But this probably wouldn't help, because usually the bottleneck is on the plane, where passengers are finding their seats and loading the overhead compartments. Frequently there is a line in the jetway of passengers whose boarding passes have been scanned, who are waiting for a chance to get into the plane.

      For medium-sized and large aircraft, the cause is this bottleneck is usually the order in which people board. If people entered the plane in an optimal way, it would go faster. People loading up their luggage would not be a problem, since there would be no one (or a minimal amount of people) waiting to get past them. Airlines try to do this via boarding by zones, but it's a bit like herding cats. The guy who should have boarded first maybe shows up last at the gate, thus screwing up the process, and so on.

      • Airlines try to do this via boarding by zones, but it's a bit like herding cats

        The problem is that they often still go front-to-back instead of back-to-front, and the zones get called in fairly rapid succession so that the first group is still blocking the aisle when the next group is coming in.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        For medium-sized and large aircraft, the cause is this bottleneck is usually the order in which people board. If people entered the plane in an optimal way, it would go faster. People loading up their luggage would not be a problem, since there would be no one (or a minimal amount of people) waiting to get past them. Airlines try to do this via boarding by zones, but it's a bit like herding cats. The guy who should have boarded first maybe shows up last at the gate, thus screwing up the process, and so on.

        A

        • Actually, the fastest boarding is done without any order at all. Everyone rushes to the gate and you board and take whatever seat you want. You can board an entire plane very quickly, but the passenger dissatisfaction is very high. It's actually the fastest way to board a plane. Of course, dissatisfaction is very high since there's no order and structure and if you're near the end, the chances of finding a set of contiguous seats is low.

          I think I read a paper (? or something like that) once which simulated the scenarios and concluded that the most efficient way of boarding is by seat number, that is, first all of the window seats, then the middle the seats, then the aisle seats, and all of them back to front (relative to the door, i.e. if the door is at the front). This does not require people having pre-assigned seats, but it does require people taking the seats up in order (and not whichever one they like) even if they enter the plane at

        • The next fastest way is outside in zoned, so you fill the back window seats first, then the middle window seats and back middle seats, the the front window seats, middle middle seats and back aisle seats.

          Not quite, according to one study done with some college kids as volunteers. The fastest way is alternating outside windows, alternating middle and isle, back to front. The reason for this is that if you alternate the rows, nobody is blocking the person across from them from accessing the overhead bins.

          The problem is, it's freaking complicated to announce.

          Not much worse than what they have now. The last time I flew...United? They had something like 10 zones. They had like 5 premium ones, 2 economy upgrade ones, and then another 3 economy zones. We've already

    • by judoguy ( 534886 )

      They already don't check ID at the gate. They just scan the boarding pass (NOT "plane ticket") like you would scan a bar code in a supermarket. How would getting your face scanned be any faster than this?

      What airports do you use? Until I bought ClearMe, I've always had to present ID.

      When I worry about the deep state knowing what I do, I just remember my Amazon purchase history. Any search of that and every detail of my life can be modeled:(.

      • by dfm3 ( 830843 )
        GP said they never check at the gate. Your id will always be checked at the security line.

        The only time I've ever had a gate agent check ID, was when trying to make an itinerary change to a buddy/standby pass at the gate when nobody in our party had their airline ID badge visible.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      They already don't check ID at the gate. They just scan the boarding pass (NOT "plane ticket") like you would scan a bar code in a supermarket. How would getting your face scanned be any faster than this?

      They do check ID at the gate for international flights. However your point stands because reading biometrics against the data in my passport takes around 30 seconds compared to the 2 seconds it takes them to check my name against the one on my boarding pass.

    • "passengers storing their bags above rows 1-10 wouldn't block passengers who want to get to rows 11-30"

      If you board rows 11-30 first, then they are the ones storing their bags over rows 1-10 and you get the delays of the people in rows 1-10 having to go to the back of the plane to find someplace to put their bags.

  • So those face and finger "masks" from Mission Impossible, which clearly make this sort of "biometric" security useless, will finally be ignored to the fullest.

    Good job TSA!
  • Okay, having my face and/or fingerprint in a database is just creepy as heck. This nonsense would be used for tracking us on network cameras all over. Talk about invasion of privacy. This would virtually eliminate it. We already have face database being used by the police in New York as well as Vermont. This is invasion of privacy on a huge scale.
  • In the US, this may be the case. But not in Europe. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) forbids the processing of this kind of sensitive information in article 9.
    • My post is only true if a ticked is completely replaced by a biometric one. Like in, the passenger has no other option. When the biometric ticket is an optional one, where the passenger has a choice between a normal ticked and a biometric one, it is allowed.
      • by Macdude ( 23507 )

        If using biometrics is optional, those who don't will be seen as subversive and face greater scrutiny. "If you haven't done anything wrong..."

        They will also be the first ones bumped/dragged from flights.

    • Does this imply (I have not researched yet) that they could possibly sidestep this with something like a $250 non-biometric service fee? Technically available in non-biometric form, but locked behind a paywall that greatly increases the cost of the service?
      • No, explicitly not. According to article 4(11), permission to the processing of personal information, should be given freely. When a $250 service fee is the consequence of saying no, there is no situation in which I freely can say no. Because there is a non-biometric alternative, the processing of biometric data is not required to offer me the service. Also article 7(4) helps me in saying that the $250 service fee harms my free choice.
  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @12:46PM (#54527039)

    For everyone who is flailing after reading this, you should know that this is an opt-in only program. "It's opt-in... for now" is a valid argument but if you don't like it, you can avoid airplanes. I've taken one in the last 10 years and frankly I didn't care for the experience and thus have not done so again. You can do the same, it's totally up to you.

    • Uhm, no. I can say that about a gazillion things as well. Don't like the government tracking everything you do? Well, you can live in isolation on a mountain top disconnected from the rest of the world, with no electronic devices whatsoever, and no contact with any other human being. It's totally up to you.
      • Don't like the government tracking everything you do?

        It's not the government that is tracking everything you do, it's corporations.

        Well, you can live in isolation on a mountain top disconnected from the rest of the world, with no electronic devices whatsoever, and no contact with any other human being. It's totally up to you.

        You can have electronic devices and have privacy, just not networked ones. The ones that are networked will be tracked. There is little reason to not talk to people unless you fear they are going to post it on facebook. Also if you care about people knowing what you buy then you should always use cash.

        • It's not the government that is tracking everything you do, it's corporations.

          How is that, in practice, any different? I can't see how anyone can say "the government isn't tracking you" post-Snowden. They might not be tracking everyone actively, but they have the means to access information about you more or less instantly, even when Google or Facebook are doing the actual tracking.

          • How is that, in practice, any different?

            Corporations are more likely to abuse the data for their own gain and then sell it.

            I can't see how anyone can say "the government isn't tracking you" post-Snowden.

            They certainly are recording what you do online and your financial transactions, there is no question about that. However, their interest in individuals is rather limited.

            They might not be tracking everyone actively, but they have the means to access information about you more or less instantly, even when Google or Facebook are doing the actual tracking.

            Which is why we need better laws to protect us from corporations, so that people (including the government) cannot simply buy the data from them. Also, if you are giving your information away, that's your own fault. There is no need to use sites like face

            • Which is why we need better laws to protect us from corporations, so that people (including the government) cannot simply buy the data from them. Also, if you are giving your information away, that's your own fault. There is no need to use sites like facebook.

              You are quite correct in saying there is no need to use Facebook. That is why I do not use Facebook. However, the situation is a bit more complicated than "it's your fault you're giving information away". If I use a "free" service like Facebook or Gmail, it is reasonable to expect that I "paying" for this in some other way. Using the data I generate on these sites to serve me relevant ads for example. However, if I am using Windows 10 - something I paid $150 for - then it is certainly not reasonable for me

              • However, if I am using Windows 10 - something I paid $150 for - then it is certainly not reasonable for me to think that the OS will collect my data and use it for advertising. "It's my own fault" does not apply - perhaps I need to use Windows 10 for work and have no choice in the matter.

                If you have to use it at work then only use it at work. Other than that, you don't have to use it.

  • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @12:49PM (#54527079) Homepage Journal

    When I presented my finger, I was attacked by the TSA. Maybe I used the wrong one.

  • Now I can fly as anyone for whom I can spoof the biometrics. Seriously though, just like any other system, putting too much faith in the security afforded by biometrics is going to bite us in the ass... and hard.
  • Use anal scans and you'll be cleared automatically by security.
  • I'm issued a boarding pass when I check in. Somewhere there's an e-ticket, possibly in the email confirmation I received after purchasing. I haven't seen a ticket in years.
  • spirit airlines fee $50 for a photo at the airport to join or you can upload your own one and it passes our high $tandard$ you can use it.

  • Your face looks completely different before you board and after being beaten on board

  • I can't wait for the TSA to start scrawling on my face that I'm singled out for extra molestation.

  • Using fingerprints and allowing a third-party to have access to that data is unacceptable. They can be used to track what people are doing and require registration data (which will be horribly abused) .

    Stand up for your rights, people... and the rights of your children. Once you give this data to the government (or big business), it will NEVER be erased or restricted, regardless of claims or laws- it will go into huge databases and shared between businesses and agencies and used however they want for as lo

  • Officer: Ticket please.
    Me: [Put my face down on the table]
    Officer:[stamps my face]
    Officer: You're good to go. Next Please!
  • If it's just a pilot program, us passengers won't be allowed to use it anyway!

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman

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