Canada's first airline launches digital identification, facial recognition tech


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Particular brands of “safety” – and “convenience” – have become almost the familiar refrain under which various forms of digital, biometrics-based IDs are now being introduced by various sectors of various industries across the globe.

, otherwise proven as eager to undermine actual data and privacy under any given circumstances, now seems late to the airports’ facial recognition identity verification game.

Nevertheless, here we are, and Air Canada has announced that it is running a pilot program that allows passengers to use that “safety, and convenience” to prove their identity. A number flights – namely those departing Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on “select” flights to Winnipeg, as well as eligible passengers going into Toronto Pearson International Airport’s Air Canada Cafe, are all eligible.

But others should not have any fear of missing out, because the pilot is meant to open the floodgates for passengers traveling elsewhere, again as the option is expanded to “select” Canadian airports, as well as “Maple Leaf Lounges” customers.

“Convenience” – but at a rather high overall price, personal data safety and privacy-wise, is once again cited as the king – and Air Canada says “many customers” now go for using digital ID just to do things like unlocking phones, getting into workplaces, verifying facial financial interactions – activities that typically require no thought, and save second of time. And at what a price.

But that price is not what Air Canada is here to promote, instead, it is speaking of all these developments in a positive manner, and then positioning itself as a leader in Canada, when it comes to testing “digital identification using facial recognition technology to validate customer identification quickly.”

Of course, it’s also allegedly secure and accurate, for now, “at select airport touchpoints,” the press release continued. Right now, participation is voluntary. But the idea is clearly to make this so palatable as being convenient – that more people voluntarily surrendering their biometric data are projected going forward.

Some might say that once air travel had been made a nuisance at best, and a time-consuming nightmare at worst post 9/11, controversial biometric tech is now being offered as a way to “right” that wrong – of robbing people of even more of their data.

Digital ID enrollment, as Air Canada is rolling it out, is “a single feature on the Air Canada app” – and the promise is that “biometric data is encrypted and stored only on the customer’s mobile phone.”

It shouldn’t be too hard to get the convenience-prone customer to believe “it will only be retained for up to 36 hours subject to Air Canada’s rigorous privacy and security standards.”

This post was written by: Didi Rankovic
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One Comment

  1. So the whole idea of digital identification would not be so bad if it would always remain optional. However, it makes perfect sense for tyrannical self interested governments to adopt such a strategy in their own best interests. It would be nice to believe that governments are actually in place to serve the people but history proves otherwise. Nations might start well but historically degenerate because the people who run them ultimately do so for their own self interest. The current Canadian federal government under Justin Trudeau is a good example of this.

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