As Delta unveils nation’s 1st biometric terminal, some love its convenience, others raise privacy concerns

ATLANTA – Are you traveling through the world’s busiest airport this holiday season? Say, “cheese!” Security at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is getting a facelift, as Delta rolls out the first fully biometric terminal in the country. In Terminal F, which is used for international flights, passengers have the option to use facial recognition to … Continue reading “As Delta unveils nation’s 1st biometric terminal, some love its convenience, others raise privacy concerns”

ATLANTA – Are you traveling through the world’s busiest airport this holiday season? Say, “cheese!”

Security at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is getting a facelift, as Delta rolls out the first fully biometric terminal in the country.

In Terminal F, which is used for international flights, passengers have the option to use facial recognition to carry them from curb to gate – almost entirely eliminating the need to show a passport or boarding pass.

“Today, as you travel and check a bag internationally, you’re going to show your passport four times,” said Gil West, chief operating officer at Delta. But with facial recognition officially being launched on Dec. 1, Delta is eliminating the need for passengers to rummage through their bags for a passport or crumpled boarding pass up to four times.

“Now, it’ll be frictionless,” West said.

Passengers have the opportunity to use the technology at four points before taking off. (Fox News)

How does it work?

In order to use the technology, the passenger must be flying direct to an international destination, taking off from Terminal F on Delta, Aeromexico, Air France, KLM or Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Step 1.  Enter passport information during check-in (this can be done online ahead of time or at a kiosk at the airport).

Step 2.  Click “Look” on the screen at the kiosk in the lobby.

Step 3.  Simply approach and look into the camera at the baggage counter, TSA checkpoint or gate desk. It is important to note that passengers must specifically state they do not want to use the facial recognition technology at these three points.

Passengers may still have to show boarding passes at TSA through January 2019, according to a TSA spokesperson, and while travelers do not have to hand over their passport at the gate, they are still asked to have it readily available.

Facial recognition stations are also available for returning international travelers. U.S. Customs and Border Protection requires foreign nationals to have their picture taken, but not Americans.

The technology was heralded earlier this year at Dulles International Airport – where it is operating on a smaller scale – after nabbing a man who attempted to enter the U.S. using false identification.

On only the third day using the facial comparison biometric system, officials at Washington Dulles International Airport intercepted an imposter posing as a French Citizen. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

John Wagner with CBP said the snapshot at each checkpoint is compared with the individual’s passport photo stored in a CBP database. He called it a quicker and easier process for passengers and agents.

John Selden, who was recently appointed general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson, echoed those praises.

“It will provide 100 percent identification, even of the most similar-looking people, like twins,” Selden said. “It is a proven security improvement,” he added, referencing several imposters caught in John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he previously supervised.

Officials said Americans’ photos will be deleted within 12 hours, and non-U.S. citizens’ photos will be saved in a Department of Homeland Security database for up to 75 years.

A growing ‘Big Brother’

Selden told Fox News he not only thinks facial recognition will spread to other airports and domestic flights but that it will also become mandatory – a source of growing fear among privacy advocates.

“When biometrics are an option, that's one thing,” said Alex Hamerstone of TrustedSec, an information security consulting team. In those cases, people can weigh the privacy risks and make an informed decision.

“When it becomes mandatory,” he said, “that is when it gets a bit scary.”

Hamerstone also pointed out that in his experience, “it isn’t uncommon to see organizations not follow their own retention requirements – whether intentionally or due to badly implemented processes.”

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU, expressed similar concerns in an article on the non-profit’s website.

“Having ‘your face as your passport’ might be very convenient when you’re at a government checkpoint,” Stanley wrote. “But we don’t want to have to ‘present our passport’ at every turn in American society, including walking down the sidewalk.”

Stanley warned of the government’s insatiable appetite for individuals’ personal information, arguing that security systems should be improved through physical enhancements (like explosive detection or enhanced scanners) instead of increased identification of people.

“There is a logic of identity-based security, and it inevitably leads toward a regime of expanding information collection, surveillance, and tracking of individuals,” Stanley added, noting China’s wider spread use of face surveillance.

Stanley and Hamerstone both pointed out the value of one’s biometrics – and the danger in those details being compromised.

“If your password is compromised, you can change it,” Hamerstone told Fox News in a video chat. “You can’t really change your face. There’s not much you can do. It’s hard to change what you are.”

But Hamerstone admitted, right now, facial recognition is “pretty secure” and, if implemented correctly, using the technology “makes sense.”

‘If it’s faster, I’m glad’

Of the several hundred passengers boarding a Delta flight to Shanghai, Fox did not witness one passenger opt not to use the facial recognition feature.

Brett Askea was surprised to see the new technology but pleased with the speed of the process.

“If it’s faster, I’m glad,” he said.

Another first-time user, Alicia Graham, said the biggest benefit of facial recognition is its simplicity.

“I spend so many hours in the air, I want to be able to get through the airport as fast as possible,” Graham told Fox News.

It’s something West can appreciate.

“As customers, we don’t like to stand in line, so anytime you stand in line a minute feels like an hour,” West said. He added that facial recognition can save customers 9 minutes when traveling from curb to gate.

Delta started piloting the technology in Atlanta in mid-October. Since then, Delta said less than 2 percent of passengers opted out.

Plans to expand

“If we can get this technology across the whole airport, we would be able to handle the growth of the Atlanta airport without actually building things,” Selden said, hopeful to spread the technology to domestic flights.

Delta announced this week it is rolling out another biometric terminal in Detroit in a few weeks. The airline will add facial recognition technology to its domestic hubs that fly internationally over the next year.

“If we can do it here, we can do it anywhere,” West said. “And the scalability is unlimited, not just to aviation but to other industries.”

Emilie Ikeda is a multimedia reporter based in Atlanta. 

Grindr’s president says marriage is ‘between man and woman’: report

The president of Grindr, the gay dating app, faced backlash after posting on Facebook last week that  "marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman," reports said.

Scott Chen later deleted the post, the Guardian reported. News of the post was first reported by INTO, a news website that is owned by Grindr. Chen was critical of the article, calling it "misleading" and said it was poorly translated. INTO stands by the report.

He responded in the article's comment section, the report said.

"The reason I said marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman is based on my own personal experience," he posted. "I am a straight man married to a woman I love and I have two beautiful daughters I love from the marriage. This is how I feel about my marriage. Different people have their different feelings about their marriages. You can’t deny my feelings about my marriage."

He reportedly wrote in the same post that he would boycott any company hostile to same-sex marriage.

Chen’s reported post was in response to voters in Taiwan striking down same-sex marriage. The INTO article was published Monday.

Chen said he is a "huge advocate for LGBTQ+ rights" and has been since he was young.

"I support gay marriage and I am proud that I can work for Grindr,” he said.

Grindr did not immediately respond to Fox News for comment.

“Today we at INTO have learned that the current president of Grindr believes that same-sex marriage is a ‘holy matrimony’ between men and women,” Zach Stafford, the editor of INTO, tweeted. "We are reporting this as the media property owned by Grindr and will be updating this as the story develops."

The New York Times reported that the editor did not respond to comment.

The Guardian report said Chen became the president after the dating app was purchased by Kunlun, a Chinese gaming corporation.

Chen has posted his support of gay rights in the past.

“A child who doesn’t learn about gender equality, sex education and gay education will grow up to be an ignorant person,” one of the illustrated panels read, according to the Times.

Edmund DeMarche is a news editor for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @EDeMarche.

Drone expert, Homeland Security agree airborne threats are ‘outpacing’ US defenses

A former elite drone pilot for U.S. special operations tells Fox News that the government is "just not ready" to defend against the threat of over-the-counter drones being weaponized to carry-out attacks like the one recently in Venezuela.

And while President Trump may have just signed a bill that could help bolster our defenses, the leaders of both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI recently told lawmakers that the U.S. is already behind on the issue, and that a domestic attack using the kind of drones available to everyday consumers may be inevitable.

"Emerging threats are outpacing our defenses," Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate committee on homeland security and government affairs on October 10, pointing to unmanned aerial systems (otherwise known as 'drones') as a "prime example."

"Unfortunately, outdated laws have prevented us from setting up the sophisticated countermeasures we need to protect significant national events, federal facilities, and other potential targets from an airborne menace," Nielsen added. What's more, she told lawmakers, DHS didn't even have the clear legal authority to neutralize potentially dangerous drones determined to be a threat until recently, or to even test what she called "the crucial countermeasures we need in real-world environments where the risks exist."

DHS was finally given that authority on October 5 when President Trump signed into law the new FAA Reauthorization bill. The legislation not only tackles issues like the amount of leg room on commercial flights, it also grants DHS the authority to monitor, track, seize, exercise control of, confiscate, or even destroy any drone it deems a threat to what they define as a "covered facility or asset."

That definition refers to any location identified as "high-risk and a potential target for unlawful unmanned aircraft activity," language that is considered overly broad by a variety of drone and civil rights activists.

Even with that new authority, FBI Director Christopher Wray told senators that "the FBI assesses that, given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, [drones] will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering." A DHS threat warning updated in August 2018 reiterated the government's concerns that drones "may be capable of transporting contraband, chemical, or other explosive/weaponized payloads."

Brett Velicovich, a former special operations drone pilot who now advises private and government officials all the way up to the White House on how to defend against this type of threat, adds that even with the new authority granted by the president there isn't a whole lot the government can do. "The technology that exists now isn't capable of successfully taking down drones at the rate it needs to be, so [the bill] won't matter, but it's a good beginning." DHS did not respond to a request for comment on this assessment.

Brett Velicovich, a former special operations drone pilot, says the U.S. is unprepared to deal with the growing threat of commercially available drones being weaponized by bad actors.

Velicovich says the alleged assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro over the summer, in which two drones loaded with explosives detonated amid a military parade, was apparently carried out with the kind of technology available to everyday consumers. It was just last year that CENTCOM officials told Fox News U.S. and Iraqi soldiers were dealing with upwards of 30 encounters a week with non-military drones that had been weaponized by ISIS.

That, Velicovich argues, is the essence of the problem.

"The same stuff that's available to consumers is the kind of tech I wished I would've had in the military," Velicovich says. "In the course of simple development, [drone manufacturers] are creating things that defeat these millions of dollars of equipment that the government uses to help combat the problem, so it's a constant back-and-forth between government agencies that see the threat, and these manufacturers just trying to make money," he added.

Fox News was able to confirm that some of the best-selling consumer/commercial drones – which are widely available in stores and on the internet – are indeed capable of carrying enough weight to deliver payloads that could do serious damage.

The National Football League (NFL) is an organization that has first-hand experience with this issue, and the organization's president of security notes it could have been much worse.

Cathy Lanier, the senior vice president of security for the NFL & the former District of Columbia police chief, told lawmakers on September 13 about a particularly disturbing incident during which a drone not only penetrated stadium airspace, it also dropped leaflets all over a San Francisco 49ers crowd.

"We're all very fortunate that the drone… dropped just leaflets," Lanier warned.

Defending against the threat of weaponized drones is a problem that has produced a myriad of solutions, some more realistic than others. In this photo, a French army falconer works with a golden eagle as part of a military training for combat against drones in Mont-de-Marsan French Air Force base, Southwestern France, February 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau, File)

Velicovich participated in a gathering organized by Interpol over the summer on this very issue, advising law enforcement from around the world on what he calls an immediate threat. He says it's heartening to see people finally waking up to a threat he's been warning about for some time, even if he believes some of their methods are questionable.

"I've seen everything, in France they're training bald eagles to go take down drones and in Thailand, police have drones with 10-20 foot nets," Velicovich says, "but these drones nowadays are so fast that things like nets are a joke."

In the end, Velicovich still thinks that drones are a force for good, and that they aren't going away anytime soon.

"You have to do it both ways. You have to talk about the dangers of it, but at the same time the benefits of drones well outweigh the risks," he says. "We'll see the day where there's a drone for every household."

Drone expert, Homeland Security agree airborne threats are ‘outpacing’ US defenses

A former elite drone pilot for U.S. special operations tells Fox News that the government is "just not ready" to defend against the threat of over-the-counter drones being weaponized to carry-out attacks like the one recently in Venezuela.

And while President Trump may have just signed a bill that could help bolster our defenses, the leaders of both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI recently told lawmakers that the U.S. is already behind on the issue, and that a domestic attack using the kind of drones available to everyday consumers may be inevitable.

"Emerging threats are outpacing our defenses," Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate committee on homeland security and government affairs on October 10, pointing to unmanned aerial systems (otherwise known as 'drones') as a "prime example."

"Unfortunately, outdated laws have prevented us from setting up the sophisticated countermeasures we need to protect significant national events, federal facilities, and other potential targets from an airborne menace," Nielsen added. What's more, she told lawmakers, DHS didn't even have the clear legal authority to neutralize potentially dangerous drones determined to be a threat until recently, or to even test what she called "the crucial countermeasures we need in real-world environments where the risks exist."

DHS was finally given that authority on October 5 when President Trump signed into law the new FAA Reauthorization bill. The legislation not only tackles issues like the amount of leg room on commercial flights, it also grants DHS the authority to monitor, track, seize, exercise control of, confiscate, or even destroy any drone it deems a threat to what they define as a "covered facility or asset."

That definition refers to any location identified as "high-risk and a potential target for unlawful unmanned aircraft activity," language that is considered overly broad by a variety of drone and civil rights activists.

Even with that new authority, FBI Director Christopher Wray told senators that "the FBI assesses that, given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, [drones] will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering." A DHS threat warning updated in August 2018 reiterated the government's concerns that drones "may be capable of transporting contraband, chemical, or other explosive/weaponized payloads."

Brett Velicovich, a former special operations drone pilot who now advises private and government officials all the way up to the White House on how to defend against this type of threat, adds that even with the new authority granted by the president there isn't a whole lot the government can do. "The technology that exists now isn't capable of successfully taking down drones at the rate it needs to be, so [the bill] won't matter, but it's a good beginning." DHS did not respond to a request for comment on this assessment.

Brett Velicovich, a former special operations drone pilot, says the U.S. is unprepared to deal with the growing threat of commercially available drones being weaponized by bad actors.

Velicovich says the alleged assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro over the summer, in which two drones loaded with explosives detonated amid a military parade, was apparently carried out with the kind of technology available to everyday consumers. It was just last year that CENTCOM officials told Fox News U.S. and Iraqi soldiers were dealing with upwards of 30 encounters a week with non-military drones that had been weaponized by ISIS.

That, Velicovich argues, is the essence of the problem.

"The same stuff that's available to consumers is the kind of tech I wished I would've had in the military," Velicovich says. "In the course of simple development, [drone manufacturers] are creating things that defeat these millions of dollars of equipment that the government uses to help combat the problem, so it's a constant back-and-forth between government agencies that see the threat, and these manufacturers just trying to make money," he added.

Fox News was able to confirm that some of the best-selling consumer/commercial drones – which are widely available in stores and on the internet – are indeed capable of carrying enough weight to deliver payloads that could do serious damage.

The National Football League (NFL) is an organization that has first-hand experience with this issue, and the organization's president of security notes it could have been much worse.

Cathy Lanier, the senior vice president of security for the NFL & the former District of Columbia police chief, told lawmakers on September 13 about a particularly disturbing incident during which a drone not only penetrated stadium airspace, it also dropped leaflets all over a San Francisco 49ers crowd.

"We're all very fortunate that the drone… dropped just leaflets," Lanier warned.

Defending against the threat of weaponized drones is a problem that has produced a myriad of solutions, some more realistic than others. In this photo, a French army falconer works with a golden eagle as part of a military training for combat against drones in Mont-de-Marsan French Air Force base, Southwestern France, February 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau, File)

Velicovich participated in a gathering organized by Interpol over the summer on this very issue, advising law enforcement from around the world on what he calls an immediate threat. He says it's heartening to see people finally waking up to a threat he's been warning about for some time, even if he believes some of their methods are questionable.

"I've seen everything, in France they're training bald eagles to go take down drones and in Thailand, police have drones with 10-20 foot nets," Velicovich says, "but these drones nowadays are so fast that things like nets are a joke."

In the end, Velicovich still thinks that drones are a force for good, and that they aren't going away anytime soon.

"You have to do it both ways. You have to talk about the dangers of it, but at the same time the benefits of drones well outweigh the risks," he says. "We'll see the day where there's a drone for every household."

Drone expert, Homeland Security agree airborne threats are ‘outpacing’ US defenses

A former elite drone pilot for U.S. special operations tells Fox News that the government is "just not ready" to defend against the threat of over-the-counter drones being weaponized to carry-out attacks like the one recently in Venezuela.

And while President Trump may have just signed a bill that could help bolster our defenses, the leaders of both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI recently told lawmakers that the U.S. is already behind on the issue, and that a domestic attack using the kind of drones available to everyday consumers may be inevitable.

"Emerging threats are outpacing our defenses," Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate committee on homeland security and government affairs on October 10, pointing to unmanned aerial systems (otherwise known as 'drones') as a "prime example."

"Unfortunately, outdated laws have prevented us from setting up the sophisticated countermeasures we need to protect significant national events, federal facilities, and other potential targets from an airborne menace," Nielsen added. What's more, she told lawmakers, DHS didn't even have the clear legal authority to neutralize potentially dangerous drones determined to be a threat until recently, or to even test what she called "the crucial countermeasures we need in real-world environments where the risks exist."

DHS was finally given that authority on October 5 when President Trump signed into law the new FAA Reauthorization bill. The legislation not only tackles issues like the amount of leg room on commercial flights, it also grants DHS the authority to monitor, track, seize, exercise control of, confiscate, or even destroy any drone it deems a threat to what they define as a "covered facility or asset."

That definition refers to any location identified as "high-risk and a potential target for unlawful unmanned aircraft activity," language that is considered overly broad by a variety of drone and civil rights activists.

Even with that new authority, FBI Director Christopher Wray told senators that "the FBI assesses that, given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, [drones] will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering." A DHS threat warning updated in August 2018 reiterated the government's concerns that drones "may be capable of transporting contraband, chemical, or other explosive/weaponized payloads."

Brett Velicovich, a former special operations drone pilot who now advises private and government officials all the way up to the White House on how to defend against this type of threat, adds that even with the new authority granted by the president there isn't a whole lot the government can do. "The technology that exists now isn't capable of successfully taking down drones at the rate it needs to be, so [the bill] won't matter, but it's a good beginning." DHS did not respond to a request for comment on this assessment.

Brett Velicovich, a former special operations drone pilot, says the U.S. is unprepared to deal with the growing threat of commercially available drones being weaponized by bad actors.

Velicovich says the alleged assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro over the summer, in which two drones loaded with explosives detonated amid a military parade, was apparently carried out with the kind of technology available to everyday consumers. It was just last year that CENTCOM officials told Fox News U.S. and Iraqi soldiers were dealing with upwards of 30 encounters a week with non-military drones that had been weaponized by ISIS.

That, Velicovich argues, is the essence of the problem.

"The same stuff that's available to consumers is the kind of tech I wished I would've had in the military," Velicovich says. "In the course of simple development, [drone manufacturers] are creating things that defeat these millions of dollars of equipment that the government uses to help combat the problem, so it's a constant back-and-forth between government agencies that see the threat, and these manufacturers just trying to make money," he added.

Fox News was able to confirm that some of the best-selling consumer/commercial drones – which are widely available in stores and on the internet – are indeed capable of carrying enough weight to deliver payloads that could do serious damage.

The National Football League (NFL) is an organization that has first-hand experience with this issue, and the organization's president of security notes it could have been much worse.

Cathy Lanier, the senior vice president of security for the NFL & the former District of Columbia police chief, told lawmakers on September 13 about a particularly disturbing incident during which a drone not only penetrated stadium airspace, it also dropped leaflets all over a San Francisco 49ers crowd.

"We're all very fortunate that the drone… dropped just leaflets," Lanier warned.

Defending against the threat of weaponized drones is a problem that has produced a myriad of solutions, some more realistic than others. In this photo, a French army falconer works with a golden eagle as part of a military training for combat against drones in Mont-de-Marsan French Air Force base, Southwestern France, February 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau, File)

Velicovich participated in a gathering organized by Interpol over the summer on this very issue, advising law enforcement from around the world on what he calls an immediate threat. He says it's heartening to see people finally waking up to a threat he's been warning about for some time, even if he believes some of their methods are questionable.

"I've seen everything, in France they're training bald eagles to go take down drones and in Thailand, police have drones with 10-20 foot nets," Velicovich says, "but these drones nowadays are so fast that things like nets are a joke."

In the end, Velicovich still thinks that drones are a force for good, and that they aren't going away anytime soon.

"You have to do it both ways. You have to talk about the dangers of it, but at the same time the benefits of drones well outweigh the risks," he says. "We'll see the day where there's a drone for every household."