IRELAND- A well-known digital privacy advocacy group has lodged a complaint against Ryanair (FR) in Spain, accusing the popular Irish airline of promoting an “invasive facial recognition process” for its customers.
Austria’s noyb alleged that certain passengers of the Irish budget carrier were compelled to undergo a “mandatory verification process” involving intrusive facial recognition when bookings through an online travel agent rather than directly on Ryanair’s official website or app.
Ryanair Invasive Facial Recognition
The group asserted that Ryanair had no valid justification for implementing such a system.
Further, as stated in their official statement, it appeared that the airline was deliberately disregarding its customers’ right to data protection to gain an unfair competitive advantage over alternative booking channels.
According to Noyb, the complaint was raised by a Spanish customer who booked a Ryanair flight through the online travel agency eDreams. Subsequently received an email from Ryanair urging her to undergo a “verification process.”
The case has been officially submitted to the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD).
Noyb pointed out that Ryanair failed to offer clear information about this intrusive process’s purpose. This necessitates the customer’s consent under the European Union’s data protection regulation (GDPR).
Mandatory for Flight Bookings
According to its website, Ryanair states that customers’ identity verification may be necessary when a booking is made through a third-party travel agent without a commercial agreement with the airline.
Ryanair explains that identity verification aims to ensure customers’ awareness. Further, it is in compliance with safety and security regulations.
The airline offers two online verification options. One is an “express” version utilizing facial recognition technology by Ryanair’s partner GetID, costing 0.59 euro cents. Then an option of verifying identity at an airport check-in desk before the flight, with a warning of applicable fees.
The Vienna-based privacy campaign group, noyb (None Of Your Business), is currently handling numerous complaints from internet users across various jurisdictions concerning data protection and rights issues.
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