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Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.


Air Canada to offer facial recognition option for passenger boarding

A pilot project for the tech aimed at improved efficiency is currently underway at Vancouver Airport and Toronto Pearson

Air Canada to offer facial recognition option for passenger boarding
Facial recognition technology. Photo via Air Canada

Air Canada (TSX: AC) is the first airline to launch a pilot project that uses facial recognition for boarding passengers at the Vancouver and Toronto airports.

The airline announced the pilot project on Tuesday and says it is set to speed up processes while respecting privacy measures and security standards. Customers travelling on certain flights from Vancouver to Winnipeg and using the Air Canada Café at Toronto Pearson will be receiving an invitation to utilize the new digital identification option along with instructions for access through the airline’s mobile app.

Customers will need to provide additional consent to Air Canada for use of the new technology and the airline has made it clear that this method of digital identification is an Air Canada-specific initiative with no links to government sponsored programs like NEXUS or Global Entry.

The airline will only retain customers data used through the new program for up to 36 hours.

Read more: Germany prepares to build Hydrogen Aviation Center in 2024

Read more: WestJet launches flight program with sustainable aviation fuel

“We are very excited to now take a leadership position in Canada and test digital identification using facial recognition technology to validate customer identification quickly, securely and accurately at select airport touchpoints,” said Craig Landry, Chief Operations Officer at Air Canada.

“Air Canada’s pilot project will speed up processes at YVR, and other airports where it’s established, while respecting robust privacy measures and security standards,” said Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport for the Government of Canada.

Air Canada will be expanding the program to other Canadian airports in the near future.

Company stock price dropped by 4.34 per cent today to $20.28 on the TSX.

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also implemented a pilot program for the use of facial recognition technology at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Dallas Fort Worth and 14 other major airports in the U.S. last year. Like Air Canada’s pilot program, those not interested can opt out and present other identification.

Privacy concerns among users arise

Many are not happy with the implementation of the new ID method and have voiced their privacy concerns on social media.

Privacy concerns regarding facial recognition are also prevalent in other countries.

According to a study from the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing in Massachusetts, the results of a 2021 survey in China among anonymous respondents found that 87 per cent of 1,515 participants were opposed to the facial recognition.

“Over 87 per cent opposed the use of facial recognition technology for payments in commercial settings such as malls and retail streets, citing as a principal reason their mistrust in the private companies that supplied the facial recognition algorithms,” said the authors.

They also added that a 2019 study involving far more participants showed a high level of distrust for facial recognition.

“A similar survey from 2019, covering 6,152 respondents, found that approximately 80 per cent of respondents were concerned about personal data protection in relation to facial recognition.”


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