Creepy or Cool? Your Face Will Be Your Passport (Facial Recognition Has Started at Sydney Airport)

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Scott:   Oh, Big Brother!

“Your face will be your passport and boarding pass.  There will be no fumbling for passports,” Sydney Airport’s chief executive, Geoff Culbert, told The Sydney Morning Herald.

To kick it off, a test group of Qantas international passengers have started using the facial recognition technology at Australia’s busiest airport, where 43 million travelers pass through each year.

Today the airport released a statement that passengers can complete most parts of their trip using their face as their “access identification.”

Phase one automates:

  • check-in
  • bag drop
  • lounge access
  • boarding

Next up will be mobile check-in and border processing.

OK, sure it’ll be convenient, much like using your face to access your phone.  But… am I the only semi-paranoid person here who sees potential for disaster?

I suppose it all comes down to trust.

Do you trust your government or airport or airline to

1. Safeguard your information

2. Not use it beyond the scope of its intended purpose

Dark Thoughts

We all know about the many humongous data breaches that have “Equifaxed” our personal information to potential criminals.  This would be another juicy “Target” for hackers and other “yahoos.”

As you’ve probably heard, authorities in China are using facial recognition technology to send out jaywalking tickets.

Cameras are cheap now.  So it’s not too much of a problem to capture clear footage and match it to a database.  This system in China will be extended to traffic violations and more.  At at least one rail station in China, police officers have smart glasses to spot wanted criminals.

And that all sounds warm and fuzzy like the RoboCop movies.  But there’s the always-dangerous possibility of what’s next.

Did you participate in a peaceful protest of some sort?  Your face, name, and information are easily logged.

Are you a school teacher by day but a party animal by night?  Your employer easily follow you around to see if you’ve broken any moral codes to terminate your employment.

Or perhaps the complete loss of anonymity will make everyone behave!  After all, kids don’t steal from the cookie jar when mom is watching.

Many of my friends kind of shrug it off by saying they have nothing to hide.  So maybe I’m too concerned about the abstract idea of every person’s every movement being recorded and tracked.  I’m not sure.  It just seems creepy to me.

What do you think?  Let’s say facial recognition is rolled out to airports worldwide.  Will you opt-in?  Or will you go through the presumably slower lane because you don’t want your face in a database?