British Airways' 'Google Image' scheme blasted over passenger privacy
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A new British Airways scheme called 'Know Me' which employs the use of Google to create passenger information files has sparked a privacy row.
The scheme will see staff using Google on iPads to access information about customer data, including travel history, meal requests and previous complaints.
Google Images will be used to search for pictures to verify passenger profiles, helping to identify repeat fliers.
British Airways has said 'Know Me' is a service that will enable a more personalised approach to passengers, allowing them to resolve problems more efficiently .
A spokesman told the Daily Mail: "The most recent advancement of the system enables the British Airways team to search Google Images for a photo of specific customers, so they can recognise them as soon as they enter the airport or aircraft and proactively approach them."
Around 2,000 cabin crew have been given iPads for the scheme, which the company hopes will see 4,500 passengers a day given personal greetings by the end of the year.
BA's head of revenue and customer analysis added that the airline was trying to create the "feeling of recognition you get in a favourite restaurant when you're welcome there".
But Nick Pickles, director of privacy group Big Brother Watch, said the scheme was effectively a breach of passenger privacy.
He told the Daily Mail: "Fundamentally British Airways have not asked their passengers' permission to search Google to find their picture or any other information.
"For them to do so without express consent may be unlawful under the Data Protection Act."
The BA spokesman added: "We are entirely compliant with the UK Data Protection Act and would never breach that.
'"Know Me" is simply another tool to enable us to offer good customer service, similar to the recognition that High Street loyalty scheme members expect.
'The Google Images search app helps our customer service team to recognise high-profile travellers such as captains of industry who would be using our first class facilities, enabling us to give a more personalised service."
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