05/19/2017

Your Airline Will See You Now

4:25 minutes

Delta Air Line’s new facial recognition machines. Credit: Delta Air Lines

Public opinion of airlines is at an all-time low. Every day seems to bring a new story of passenger misfortune. To prove that it’s still customer-focused, Delta Air Lines is piloting a new program it says will speed things up when you drop off your bag at the airport. Instead of waiting in a typical bag check line, customers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will soon be able to self-check their bags at special kiosks, one of which will include facial recognition technology. When a passenger swipes their passport at that kiosk, a camera will scan their face to confirm their identity.

[Meet the CSI-esque team for birds that get struck by airplanes.]

The airline says the program facilitates convenience, but Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, warns of a slippery slope: At what point does consumer-friendly facial recognition technology turn into airport surveillance? She joins Ira to discuss the good and the bad of Delta’s new facial recognition pilot program.


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Segment Guests

Jennifer Lynch

Jennifer Lynch is Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, California.

Meet the Producer

About Katie Hiler

Katie Hiler is an assistant producer for Science Friday and the proud mother of two cats, Charleigh and Sadie.