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Airlines Testing Facial Recognition Tech To Speed Boarding Process

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BOSTON (CBSMiami) – Your face may soon be the only thing you need to board a flight.

Some airlines are testing facial recognition technology with the federal government. The idea is to ditch boarding passes.

In a trial of facial recognition technology by U.S. Customs and JetBlue at Boston’s airport, the airline wants to see if it makes the boarding process faster.

“You’re just gonna walk up and take a picture and that’s it? It just amazes me the technology,” said Francis Sadowski who was waiting to catch a flight.

The technology is supposed to be quick. Just snap a picture and compare it to a government database of passport pictures. If you’re approved, you can board the plane.

“That is revolutionary in the airline industry, and Delta is right at the front of it,” said Delta Senior Vice President Gareth Joyce.

Joyce himself tested a facial recognition bag drop at Minneapolis’ airport. The goal is to have passengers check luggage without an airline employee being there to verify their identity. The airline is also testing facial recognition 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,” said Joyce.

But even as the technology speeds passengers through the airport, some fear it’s moving too fast.

“Implementation of the use of biometrics need to be scrutinized very closely,” said Jeramie Scott with the Electronic Privacy Information Center)

Scott said he 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,” said Scott.

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

As for those long lines at security checkpoints. The TSA is not testing facial recognition but they are trying out fingerprints, instead of ID checks, at two airports.

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