Delta to start scanning faces at airport check-in

Delta will later this year roll out facial recognition at its terminal at Atlanta International Airport for anyone traveling on an international flight. The airline said the biometric facial scanning is optional — a move that will shave off a few minutes off each flight — but will help border and pre-flight security authorities before […]

Delta will later this year roll out facial recognition at its terminal at Atlanta International Airport for anyone traveling on an international flight.

The airline said the biometric facial scanning is optional — a move that will shave off a few minutes off each flight — but will help border and pre-flight security authorities before jetting out of the US. It’s the latest roll-out of facial recognition trials at Detroit Metropolitan and New York John F. Kennedy airports.

What might be convenient to some, to others it’s a privacy violation — and some argue that without approval from Congress, it could be illegal.

Facial recognition at airports is a controversial move, one that’s been decried over the past year since it first rolled out last year. Six major US airports completed trials as part of a wider rollout — aimed to be completed by today. CBP relies on airlines to collect facial recognition data, something Delta doesn’t shy away from. The airline said facial recognition “is a natural next step following CBP and Delta’s optional facial recognition boarding tests” at Atlanta.

Customs and Border Protection has previously said that the move was to crack down on those who overstay their visas, but privacy advocates said that it steps on privacy rights.

Delta said that travelers who don’t want their faces will be given several opportunities to opt-out, Delta spokesperson Kathryn Steele told TechCrunch, and can continue to “proceed normally” through security.

CBP spokesperson Jennifer Gabris said that only US citizens can opt out, and will have their documents checked manually.

Homeland Security, which oversees border security, struck a different tone when last year it said that anyone who wanted to opt out of having their faces scanned should “refrain from traveling.”

Biometric data collected by Delta is stored by the government for two weeks, but exit records on citizens and green card holders are held for 15 years, and 75 years for non-immigrant visitors.

If that makes you uneasy, don’t expect the rollout to slow any time soon. Homeland Security continues to expand the program and is expected to roll out to land borders. Airport biometric scanners last month caught a traveler with a fake passport after using the facial scanners at Washington Dulles airport.

Even with one success story in the bag, it’s a tough sell to convince the government to pull back now.

British Airways customer data stolen in data breach

British Airways has confirmed a data breach. The London-based airline, the largest in the UK, did not disclose much about the breach, only that hackers stole customer data from its website, ba.com. In a statement, BA said that the “personal and financial details” of customers who made bookings on BA’s site or app between August […]

British Airways has confirmed a data breach.

The London-based airline, the largest in the UK, did not disclose much about the breach, only that hackers stole customer data from its website, ba.com.

In a statement, BA said that the “personal and financial details” of customers who made bookings on BA’s site or app between August 21 and September 5 were compromised, but travel or passport information was not taken.

A spokesperson told TechCrunch that “around 380,000 card payments” were compromised. BA had more than 45 million passengers last year.

“The breach has been resolved and our website is working normally,” the company said in a statement.

“British Airways is communicating with affected customers and we advise any customers who believe they may have been affected by this incident to contact their banks or credit card providers and follow their recommended advice,” said the statement.

Under the new European GDPR data protections laws, the airline can face fines of up to four percent of its global annual revenue.

Air Canada confirms mobile app data breach

Air Canada has confirmed a data breach on its mobile app, which the airline said may affect 20,000 people — or 1 percent — of its 1.7 million app users. The company said it had “detected unusual log-in behavior” occurring between August 22-24. According to an email to customers, attackers may have accessed basic profile […]

Air Canada has confirmed a data breach on its mobile app, which the airline said may affect 20,000 people — or 1 percent — of its 1.7 million app users.

The company said it had “detected unusual log-in behavior” occurring between August 22-24.

According to an email to customers, attackers may have accessed basic profile data, including names, email addresses and phone numbers — but also more sensitive data that users may have added to their profiles, including passport numbers and expiry date, passport country of issuance, NEXUS numbers for trusted travelers, gender, dates of birth, nationality and country of residence.

But credit card data was not accessed, the airline said.

It’s not known if there was a direct breach of Air Canada’s systems or if hackers attempted to reuse passwords from other sites that may have also been used on Air Canada’s mobile app.

When reached, an Air Canada spokesperson did not comment on the breach, referring only to a FAQ on the airline’s website.

Air Canada joins the ranks of other airlines that have admitted data breaches in recent months. Delta said earlier this year that customer data was stolen after a security lapse at one of its third-party customer support service vendors. And, last year Virgin admitted it a hacker broke into its internal network, prompting the company to force-reset staff passwords.