In a recent series of tweet, Jet Blue admitted to using biometric data provided by the US Department of Homeland Security to scan passenger faces during the boarding process of international flights. A Jet Blue passenger tweeted “I just boarded an international @JetBlue flight. Instead of scanning my boarding pass or handing over my passport, I looked into a camera before being allowed down the jet bridge. Did facial recognition replace boarding passes, unbeknownst to me? Did I consent to this?”
Jet Blue responded, apologizing for making passengers feel uncomfortable about their use of facial recognition. It then followed up, confirming that it uses biometric data collected by the Department of Homeland Security to match faces to names.
Some joined the conversation to say they had nothing to hide, and that mass surveillance is nothing to worry about. Others retorted that there is “nothing to worry about” until “the wrong type of government arrives.” The process used by Jet Blue to identify passengers boarding international flights implies that the Department of Homeland Security maintains a facial recognition database of American citizens and has the capability to employ mass surveillance to identify any American and track our movements. This is the sort of tool that totalitarian governments of the past could only dream of.