Flight passengers will soon be able to go through airport security checks a lot faster. If New York-based company Clear has its way, in the near future airlines will be able to verify a passenger’s identity using biometric authentication.
Clear uses advanced scanning technology – certified by the Department of Homeland Security – in order to turn unique fingerprints or iris images into a travel ID. The company already has set up kiosks and dedicated lanes in over 21 airports across the country including in New York airports LaGuardia and Kennedy. In these locations, passengers can simply submit to a quick fingerprint or retina scan to get through the identify screening line.
Clear’s technology is only meant to shorten the time of passengers’ waiting at the airport for their IDs or boarding passes to be checked and does not substitute actual security checks which include bag scans and metal detectors. Signing up to Clear takes under five minutes. Travelers can do so before heading to the airport or on site – (does this mean website or at the airport?). Once the process of signing up is complete, users are given a one-month free trial to enjoy. After that Clear charges its users an annual fee of $179.
At the beginning of this year, the company revealed it has more than 700,000 active members and is expected to surpass the 1 million milestone in the next few months.
It is worth mentioning that Clear’s solution does not replace TSA PreCheck – a service which lets eligible, low-risk travelers enjoy expedited security screening – but it is meant to complement it. PreCheck allows selected travelers to keep their shoes, belts and laptops through the process of screening.
Useful as it may be, Clear’s authentication solution does raise some concerns, security experts claim. For example, it’s unclear where the company stores all this sensitive information. It’s a valid question, given the high-sensitive status of biometric information, which unlike passwords and credit card information can’t be changed. In a scenario where hackers manage to breach Clear’s biometric database, they could easily clone users’ identities. That is a pretty scary scenario. However, Clear assures the public it is taking security very seriously and doing its best to employ the most advanced technology in the field to protect users’ information. Still the company did not go into specifics about the exact precautions it is taking.
Clear security checks are not just exclusive to airports. Back in 2015, the New York Yankees partnered up with Clear for easy stadium entry. The company was also said to be in talks with more ball parks as well as non-sport venues, such as concert halls.
The idea behind Clear came from a journalist Steven Brill back in 2003 who also tried to implement it. However, by 2009 his startup had already run out of money. Luckily the venture was saved by a $6 million investment. Stakeholders in the company include the T.Rowe Price Group Inc., Sterling Equities and Delta Air Lines Inc., which has a 5% stake.
At this point in time, the future looks bright for Clear, especially with the summer holiday season coming up, which means most people will be looking to bypass the frustratingly long queues throughout the airport terminals.
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