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Delta Air Lines uses face recognition cameras & # 39; s at LAX entry gates

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Delta Air Lines will use facial recognition technology on Friday at Los Angeles International Airport and install cameras to identify passengers at one boarding gate, with plans to add more.

The move by the Atlanta-based carrier comes as a coalition of progressive groups, including Greenpeace, MoveOn and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, called for a federal ban on the use of face recognition technology by law enforcement agencies.

Technology critics say that the images collected by the cameras can be saved and used to violate the privacy of innocent people, and that the technology is more likely to mislead women and people in color than white men.

Fight for the Future, a non-profit group that opposes online censorship and is a member of the coalition, said the group is opposed to the use of face recognition for airlines.

Delta Air Lines pilots and crew members use newly implemented cameras for face recognition before embarking on a flight to Paris.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

"There is no real oversight of how a private company can use our biometric information after they have collected it," said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. "We have already seen controversial data breaches in which face recognition databases at airports were hacked and exposed."

LAX has been a testing ground for facial recognition technology by various airlines and federal agencies for the past 12 months.

US Customs and Border Protection began testing facial recognition technology in a 30-day trial last summer, which was considered a success.

"Although CBP has a very thorough and robust biographical control system, biometrics offers additional security and identity confirmation," the agency said in a statement.

American Airlines has indefinitely extended a 90-day trial period for the use of face recognition technology that was first installed at LAX last winter. The Transportation Security Administration launched a three-week test of facial recognition cameras last year, but a TSA representative could not be reached to describe the results of the test.

LAX started a pilot program for facial recognition technology in January at three boarding gates used by different international airlines at Tom Bradley International Terminal. Testing is ongoing, airport officials said.

Delta's commitment to face recognition technology in Terminal 2 will not be a test. The airline permanently installs the cameras & plans to expand to 13 of the 21 boarding gates.

The cameras use face recognition technology to match the faces of departing travelers with images and names that have already been collected by Customs and Border Patrol and other government agencies. If the name corresponding to the image captured by the cameras is on the flight manifest, the passenger may board.

According to Delta, the technology can save an average of nine minutes when boarding a wide-body aircraft, or two seconds per customer compared to traditional boarding.

The carrier defended the use of the technology and said the airline does not store the photos taken at the checkpoint and gives passengers the option to have a gate agent visually confirm the identity of the passengers instead.

"Maintaining the privacy and security of customer information is a responsibility that Delta takes very seriously," said Delta spokeswoman Liz Savadelis.

Delta officials say that when Customs and Border Protection has tested face recognition technology at other airports, fewer than 2% of passengers have chosen not to use it.

An audit released by the Department of Homeland Security last year Inspector General's Office discovered that pilot programs to test technology at nine airports had a combined matching rate of only 85% – below the agency's goal of a matching rate of 97% to 100%.

The audit also blamed the poor quality of digital images for reconciling travelers younger than 29 and older than 70 years. In addition, the system found it more difficult to match certain nationalities – especially US citizens, Mexicans and Canadians – because the & # 39; digital gallery ”had fewer photos of those nationalities than of other foreign travelers, the audit said .

Delta, which has a reputation in the aerospace industry for using advanced technology, announced plans in June to install facial recognition cameras at 49 boarding gates at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport.

American Airlines said earlier this week that it is adding face recognition camera & # 39; s to confirm the identity of international travelers to three boarding gates at Dallas Fort Worth international airport.

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