"Just don't have a face": what it's like to opt-out of US airports' "optional" face recognition

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/07/02/beware-of-the-leopard-2.html


I use my “resting human” face, it drives the AI crazy.


Until we have evidence that facial recognition is accurate and reliable—as opposed to simply convenient—travelers should avoid the technology where they can.

They should, but they won’t. The battle is already lost.


I’m opting out of U.S. airports RIGHT NOW


Okay, I get the need for security, but this is beyond Orwellian-level creepy. It’s (the movie) Brazil-level creepy.

I also wonder just how hard it would be to circumvent it by adding a fake mole, or puffing out your cheeks, or some such.


Hold on, I’m almost ready.


“Just don’t have a face”


Note To Self: Wear fursuit next time I go travel.


Gate agent: Are you fur real?


It turns out that all of Funk’s suspicions were misplaced! It is as easy as pie to opt out of airport facial recognition: all you need to do to opt-out is:

  • To independently learn that you are allowed to opt out;

  • Leave the boarding queue and join a different queue at a distant information desk;

  • Return to her gate and rejoin the boarding queue; and, finally

  • Show her passport to the gate agent.

This is misleading.
This was necessary to find out how to do it, opting out requires only the last step.


I would think one of the Real ID drivers licenses would suffice - isn’t that the whole purpose of those things?


I admittedly didn’t read the Wired article, but I would be curious to know whether “opting out” actually makes any difference whatsoever in terms of what information about your face is captured at the airport, harvested by Delta (or whoever) beforehand, stored in a bunch of feebly-secured locations with no clear retention policy, etc.

There is this Kafkaesque situation with “consent” to surveillance where, once you have “released” data about yourself (e.g. by having a face or existing in a location), that is evermore used to justify your data being stored and used in all kinds of places that almost no one is really OK with. And because it is so implausible that anyone can withhold this farcical version of “consent”, no organisation takes seriously the possibility that they aren’t allowed to hold whatever data they want, even if there are nominally laws about it.

This will continue to be the case until organisations are actively frightened of retaining anyone’s personal info, for any purpose.


If you wait until you’re at the gate, aren’t you already in the database? What else would they be comparing your face scan to?


Yesterday I realised that New Zealand’s copyright act gives performers control over all recordings of their art … so last night I publicly declared the rest of my life as performance art … purveyors of face recognition systems must now obtain a license of my image in order to use it, public surveillance/security cameras must now turn themselves off as I pass least they break the law by recording my public performances


You only deeply surveil the optouts because they have something to hide.



This author is the same sort of whiner who choses to not be born rich and then whines about poverty. Absolutely no pre-personal responsibility.

Whenever I need to move through an airport I just ensure that I was engineered by the Bene Tleilax for peerless biometric anonymity and flexibility. Problem solved. Surely it doesn’t take a mentat to figure this out?


I’m a Kiwi too. Might just do that myself.

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Gave up flying in 1997.

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According to the article, they already have your face from your passport or some other kind of document and compare it with the images they scan at the gate.

It feels like the company is just trying to speed-up/automating the boarding process, as it is not that difficult to just put an unrelated camera there to harvest the same data if they really wanted it.
They are probably just storing it because it is cheap and might have a value some day.

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