The days of boarding passes and ID checks at the airport may come to an end at some point in the near future. Several airlines and airports are now testing out biometric technologies that can scan passengers' ID using facial-recognition or fingerprint scanners. JetBlue is reportedly testing face scanning for select flights, while Delta is allowing some passengers to use their fingerprints as a boarding pass. In addition, a New York-based company called CLEAR allows travelers to purchase an expedited security screening pass using scanning of fingerprints and retinas.
The idea behind this push toward biometric screening is to speed up the security process for travelers and make the flying experience more convenient. But critics warn about the potential pitfalls. "What's next, are they going to want a stool sample?....because, where is it going to stop," asks Jay Stang, privacy advocate and longtime critic of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Stang tells KTRH the public is giving up too much privacy in exchange for convenience. "It just seems like eventually it will be like the movie Total Recall where it shows your bones as you walk through a wall," he says. "At the base root of it is you are treated like a criminal as soon as you walk into the airport for no good reason."
Stang's criticism stems from the continuing advance of TSA security measures, including a recent move to search cell phones and personal devices. "I've seen no publicly reported reason on why we have to keep ratcheting up the security on these very, very invasive procedures," he says.
While the TSA and airlines may tout biometric technology as an avenue to speed and convenience, Stang warns it can also be used as another means to collect and store data on individuals. "The more data that's collected by the government, the more low-hanging fruit is there for hackers to steal," he say. "There's no good reason for doing it, bottom line."