The march continues to accelerate toward a future of biometric ID for all travel.
Regular readers might know that over the past several months I’ve been covering some disturbing developments at airports in the U.S. and internationally that seem to show an acceleration of the plan to use biometric identification in a variety of ways.
On May 19th I reported on a new program initiated by Delta Airlines at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to have automated baggage kiosks for “priority customers” that will first scan a traveler’s passport, then their face in order to match identity to checked luggage. It was promoted as a “pilot program” that Delta launched to seek customer feedback in the hope that it could be rolled out more widely in the future. That program has now entered phase 2 at Reagan National Airport with biometric boarding passes for rewards members.
JetBlue stated they will “test facial- and fingerprint-recognition technology at two U.S. airports to replace boarding passes, building on industry efforts to increase security and ease passage through airports.”
These stories were smaller pieces to a larger puzzle that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is attempting to solve per federal mandate. CBP announced on June 15th that they would integrate government databases with a private company to speed up biometric processing.
Moreover, the Department of Homeland Security has made it clear that biometric ID will eventually be mandatory for foreign travel, saying that “the only way for an individual to ensure he or she is not subject to collection of biometric information when traveling internationally is to refrain from traveling.” That’s right, no opt-out, just stay home.
OK, so no worries – airline travel sucks these days anyway, right? And most people probably can’t even afford it. Well, like every method of incremental control, it doesn’t stop where it begins; it just keeps gaining speed as it heads down the proverbial slippery slope.
So here we go – the BBC is reporting on “How facial recognition could replace train tickets.”
A facial recognition system designed to replace the need for tickets on trains is being tested in the UK. An early version that uses two near-infrared lights to help a single camera determine texture and orientation of each pixel it captures was shown to BBC Click. The system, being developed by the Bristol Robotics Lab, is being partly funded by government and the private sector. Researchers told the programme that they believe it will successfully identify passengers without the need for them to stop walking and could replace ticket gates.
The video below covers additional details of the plan which could be implemented across the UK as soon as 2020.
Clearly, airports were never meant to be the final destination. Facial recognition technology already has spread out into public spaces for data collection, primarily for targeted advertising, but also for determining political views. Russia has a pilot program underway in Moscow where their 150,000 CCTV cameras are being retrofitted with new facial recognition technology that can even read emotions in an effort to establish a pre-crime policing system.
Step by step, people are being transformed into digital organisms made easier for scanning and processing. The political will is there, the databases exist, and the technology is clearly being rolled out across every meaningful area of human activity.