Web

British Airways idea to use Google Images to identify high profile passengers sparks privacy concerns

British Airways iPadA new British Airways scheme has sparked controversy, as the airline has announced plans to search for pictures of its passengers using Google Images.

The scheme goes by the name of “Know Me,” and the idea is for staff to be able to recognize high profile passengers as they arrive, so they can be greeted personally and any issues they may have had in the past can be addressed straight away.

Google Images will be searched using an iPad, which British Airways has recently announced it will be supplying to various members of staff.

An example given by BA of how Know Me will benefit travelers, is that a passenger flying in a new class for the first time could be welcomed appropriately, then given a rundown of everything that’s new, all without having to approach a member of staff.

Passenger’s pictures would also be matched to existing profiles, which already contain details on previous and future travel plans, meal requirements and other, normal customer information.

The airline’s customer analysis head told the Evening Standard they were “trying to recreate the feeling of recognition you get in a favorite restaurant when you’re welcomed there.”

Privacy fears

Not everyone thinks it’s such a good idea though, and the director of privacy campaigners Big Brother Watch said “surely if BA want more information about us they can simply ask for it,” and added in a quote to the Evening Standard “since when has buying a ticket meant giving your airline permission to start hunting for information about you in the Internet?”

Perennial fear-mongers The Daily Mail called the service “profiling” and accused BA of “snooping.” Comments on the article included calls to boycott the airline and accusations of BA breaking the Data Protection Act.

British Airways denies it’s doing anything wrong, and told InformationAge.com “it would never use data in a way that was contrary to the Act.”

So which is it? A harmless way to help cabin crew say “welcome onboard Mr. Smith, will you want the vegetarian meal today?” Or is it a thinly veiled plot to build up a database of the airline’s richest and most notable passengers?

The trouble is, for all those up in arms about Know Me, Googling for a picture isn’t a crime. The problem seems to lie with British Airways not asking for permission to search for and subsequently use information from the web.

In turn, anyone who posts images online, outside of a secure area such as a private social networking account, should be aware they can be found by anyone able to use a search engine.

Why not use social media?

British Airways may have been able to avoid this backlash at what is, hopefully, an innocent plan to build relationships with its high-paying customers, by looking at the way the financial sector is embracing social media.

Morgan Stanley has been allowing its advisers to connect with clients through LinkedIn, where an individual relationship can then be maintained. Private messages and updates aren’t allowed, but pre-approved public updates are, and according to the firm’s head of social media, the system “really works” and advisers are gaining more business.

By employing a similar strategy, British Airways would gain access to the only picture that counts — the actual person’s face — rather than Google Images’ often hit or miss results, and have avoided all the privacy concerns, as connections have to be approved.

The airline expects to greet 4,500 passengers using the Know Me service by the end of the year, unless it’s forced to alter its plans in the meantime.

News

Expedia warns travelers of customer service refund scam

Scammers are posing as employees of Expedia to take money from unknowing consumers. Expedia Group and the Better Business Bureau teamed up to warn consumers of these scams that have been reported within the last several days.
Cars

Carbuying can be tiring: Here are the best used car websites to make it easier

Shopping for a used car isn't easy, especially when the salesman is looking to make a quick sale. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites aimed at the prospective buyer, whether you're looking for a sedan or a newfangled hybrid.
News

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s lunar landing, Google has created an interactive Google Doodle that takes users to the moon. The Google Doodle, made in partnership with NASA, features a short illustrated video…
Computing

Slack is resetting user passwords in response to a 2015 data breach

In response to recently discovered information regarding a 2015 data breach, collaboration software company Slack will be resetting the passwords of some of its user accounts beginning July 18.
News

These 6 popular browser extensions are selling your data

Some popular browser extensions are collecting and selling your data, according to a a new investigation. The extensions in question are Hover Zoom, SpeakIt!, SuperZoom, SaveFrom.net Helper, FairShare Unlock and PanelMeasurement.
Computing

Lose the key for your favorite software? These handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Web

Pegasus spyware can break into users’ cloud accounts and steal data

An Israeli software company has developed a tool with the ability to break into users' cloud-based accounts. The software has been advertised as being able to copy authentication keys and access cloud services like Google Drive or iCloud.
Computing

Use one of these password managers to help protect yourself online

The internet can be a scary place, especially if you don't have a proper password manager. This guide will show you the best password managers you can get right now, including both premium and free options.
Small Business

The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings

The bonanza of tech jobs just keeps coming. High-paying tech jobs abound at companies where people love to work. If you’re ready to make a change, this is a great time to look for something more fulfilling.   
Computing

Gmail's unsend email feature is one of its best. Here's how to use it

Everyone has sent a message they wish they could take back. How great would it be if you could undo that impulsive email? If you're a Gmail user, you can. Here's how to recall an email in Gmail.
Computing

How to change your Gmail password whenever you want in just a few quick steps

Regularly updating your passwords is a good way to stay secure online, but each site and service has their own way of doing it. Here's a quick guide on how to change your Gmail password in a few short steps.
Computing

Here's how to download a YouTube video to watch offline later

Learning how to download YouTube videos is easier than you might think. There are tools you can use both online and offline. This step-by-step guide will instruct you on how to use them.
Computing

Need to rip audio from a video? Here's how to download music from YouTube

Ripping audio from YouTube has never been easier, but with so many tools on offer, which is the best? Our guide will teach you how to download music from YouTube with two different tools. Just proceed with caution.
Computing

If you work in an office, you should know how to recall an email in Outlook

If you're an outlook user who sent an angry email and really wish you hadn't, then you're in luck. There are ways to recall that email, but you'll have to act fast. Here's how to recall an email in outlook.