Delta Proudly Announces Its Participation In The DHS's Expanded Biometric Collection Program

from the WE-LOVE-YOU-GOVERNMENT-[girlish-screams] dept

Via Travel & Leisure comes this warning — one the online magazine has decided to portray as exciting news.

Delta Air Lines is expanding its partnership with the Transportation Security Administration with its use of facial recognition technology making getting through airport security even quicker.

The airline is implementing a “digital identity experience” at its hub in Atlanta, offering customers with TSA PreCheck and a Delta SkyMiles number the chance to pass through security and board their flight without having to pull out a boarding pass or their ID.

Ah, the “digital identity experience.” That’s apparently DeltaSpeak for “biometric collection and facial recognition deployment.” That’s been the DHS’s plan all along. It may have pretended it only wanted to post up at ports of entry (i.e., international airports) but it is going to roll this out to as many airports as possible.

How do we know “digital identity experience” is Delta PR? Because this “article” is largely a regurgitation of Delta’s own press release about its increased biometric collection/domestic surveillance efforts.

First unveiled in Detroit security checkpoints in early 2021, Delta’s digital identity experience is an industry first in exclusive partnership with TSA PreCheck. The experience is expanding to Atlanta, offering customers a more efficient way to navigate the airport – without showing a paper boarding pass or a physical government ID. With just one look at a camera, customers who qualify and opt in can easily and efficiently check a bag, pass through the TSA PreCheck security line and board their plane.

You’ll notice this “experience” is first being offered to PreCheck participants. This means people who have already registered and paid the government to buy back some of their Constitutional rights are the first to be invited to help expand Custom and Border Protection’s biometric database.

Delta is just the “partner.” The TSA just mans the front end. The data and subsequent scans belong to the CBP.

Once a customer reaches a camera at the airport, their image is encrypted and sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) facial biometric matching service via a secure channel with no accompanying biographic data. CBP then verifies a customer’s identity against government holdings and sends back an indicator to allow the customer to proceed.

There are several things wrong with all of this, starting with Travel & Leisure’s cheery stenography of cheery Delta’s up-sale of government intrusion. While no one expects a leisure mag to get serious about the implications of expanding biometric collections and facial recognition programs to encompass US citizens traveling domestically, the article could have used less of the Delta’s GO TEAM USA jargon and more actual facts: like how facial recognition AI — all of it — is fundamentally flawed. Or maybe just point out the unjustified but steady encroachment of surveillance tech into airports serving millions of travelers the government has no reason to suspect are up to no good.

And Travel & Leisure may want to vet its sources. After all, Delta is more than happy to pretend things aren’t the way they are as it pitches in to make traveling a worse experience for its customers.

Atlanta’s domestic terminal south security checkpoint is the first in the U.S. that will be converted to computed tomography-automated screening lane (CT-ASL) systems – making the world’s busiest airport even more efficient as travelers connect to destinations around the world.

That’s simply not true. Increased efficiency may be the end goal but a recently released report by the DHS Inspector General says CT scanners are actually slowing down the screening process.

TSA deployed CT systems to airport passenger screening checkpoints that did not meet minimum throughput requirements. TSA’s February 2018 Operational Requirements Document identified the need for a CT system capable of screening, on average, 200 items per hour to successfully perform the mission. However, we determined TSA purchased 300 CT systems capable of screening an average of 170 items per hour — 15 percent less than the minimum requirement, and less than the AT X-ray system capability of approximately 354 items per hour.

This is a human centipede. The TSA says some shit. Delta Airlines reposts it with its own happy spin. And, at the tail end of it, consumer-facing sites are swallowing everything and dumping it on to web pages without bothering to question the sources or provide any information that might counterbalance the government’s assertions about how more intrusive collections make America a better place to call home.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: delta

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Delta Proudly Announces Its Participation In The DHS's Expanded Biometric Collection Program”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: don't forget the racial element

One can only hope this goes so badly for the privileged classes it is meant to "serve", that they react appropriately and it gets shitcanned.

Of course, what usually happens in that sort of case, is that it gets shitcanned only for those classes, but then everyone else is subjected to the "service" for free.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: don't forget the racial element

If facial recognition worked on POC LEOs would turn it off immediately.

Delta can go… well you know. I’ll just go where my miles pile up. Hopefully I can experience something like this:

Besides, SLC was always out of the way for me everywhere I wanted to go, but right in the middle of everywhere Delta wanted to take me. Damn sour grapes.


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...