Airports and Phone Tracking

In the 21st century, flying out of a commercial airport can be a tedious and chaotic experience. You have to get there earlier and endure more intense security. One major airport has a way to cut down on security waits.

At Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, they have a new system that tracks that tracks people’s phones to estimate how long a security line will be. The airport will tell passengers how long the wait is in each security line. Blip Systems is the father of this technology, and it depends on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. It finds a device’s MAC address and determines how many people are in that area. They insists there is only so much data they can collect, especially to those worried about privacy issues. Cincinnati’s airport is the first in the United States to have such a system. Twenty airports worldwide are already using it. Numbers don’t lie. According to the airport’s own study, security line wait time has decreased nearly five minutes. But Blip Systems isn’t done. They’re currently building systems to track whose in airport restaurants, stores, and possibly, every move around the terminal.

I think Blip Systems is skating on thin ice here when it comes to privacy rights. In a world where we have fewer and fewer of them, let’s not add to it. Yes, this airport phone tracking saves time at the airport. On the surface, that sounds great. We at airports could use all the breaks we could get. But when I read about how they want to track every move at the terminal, I get suspicious. Why would they want to track every move? For advertising purposes or for something else? So we save five minutes at an airport security checkpoint. Is this convenience luring us out of even more privacy?

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