Airport Facial Recognition Systems

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Airport Facial Recognition Systems
Short Title Facial Scans at the Airports Use Biometric Data to Identify Individuals
Location Global
Date 2018

Solove Harm Identification, Decisional Interference
Information Identifying, Physical Characteristics
Threat Actors Customs and Border Protection, Airlines using face recognition

Affected Travellers from or to the airports with facial recognition systems
High Risk Groups
Tangible Harms

Starting from 2018 at airports around the world, there has been significant growth in the use of biometric facial scans to verify travelers’ identities.


Many airports around the world introduced a facial recognition systems. Such system uses biometric information to map facial features from a photograph or video. It compares the information with a database of known faces to find a match. The system is supposed to help security of the airports as well as speed up the boarding.

In the United States facial scans are used in the airports both by the government (Customs and Border Protection) and by a handful of airlines.

Several privacy violations can be seen here. Linking the information from a database to the biometric data from the photos is a form of Identification. Besides, even though some airports notify the flyers that the facial scan is not mandatory, according to the data from Delta airlines, on average only 2 percent of customers opt out. Besides, there are known cases when the airline refused the opportunity to opt out to a customer, informing the customer that they would be unable to board the plane. This can be seen as Decisional Interference.

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