Biometrics in Car Rental Technology Raises Privacy Concerns
Rate of software development creates fears of overlooking vital drawbacks
Earlier this year, Hertz certainly made waves with its introduction of biometrics, in which passengers arriving at an airport could use the car rental’s terminal to get their faces scanned and speed up the booking process. Increased accounts of customer satisfaction over its convenience and reported increased efficiencies in the Hertz workflow added a great deal of publicity dividends favoring the company.
But skeptics warn that the rate in which this recognition technology is being rushed to market comes at the risk of overlooking protocols involving data protection and overall security risks facing both companies and consumers. Those worries are far more paramount considering that roughly 75 percent of smartphones available these days can be unlocked without a password or other coded means of entry. The simple touch of a finger is all users need.
Zak Doffman, who heads surveillance technology company Digital Barriers, points out that those conveniences can still be vulnerable to any security breaches that might take place in any office that uses biometric technology. “It just takes one disgruntled employee to walk out with an external hard drive,” he said to Financial Times.
Doffman’s comment comes in the wake of the U.K. government’s $130-milion lawsuit against Marriott Hotels after its system, which also uses biometric technology, lost its consumer data in a hacker breach. But the technology entrepreneur said that such incidents aside, there’s a bigger worry in whether data acquired by a company will be shared with its industry partners. “We are so tied up with worrying about the surveillance state, but the challenge is actually coming from a different direction and there is not the same level of debate,” he said.
Hertz’s biometric partner Clear has gone on record saying it never shares the car rental data with anyone else. Additionally, proponents of biometric scanning claim that the technology can go a long way towards preventing identity theft. “Being able to say categorically that you are dealing with the right person is an avenue to cut down the ways of committing identity fraud,” said Sandra Peaston, a research director at identity fraud prevention organization Cifas.
Regardless of the presence of biometrics or other technological innovations, the level of accuracy, speed and robustness of car rental management software on the market should also have a measure of security features that go hand in hand with the protocol of the company using that technology. In that regard, Bluebird has that area covered. Its products are versatile enough to enable its client base to customize its own security protocols into the management system.
In particular, its web-based platform version of RentWorks, RentWorks Cloud was designed with security as a main objective, along with simplicity and accuracy. In the case of a user who logs in but is unable to download a requested report, Bluebird has set up a protocol that ensures access only to authorized users.
Furthermore, Bluebird products are used extensively in Canadian branches of Hertz, the same company that adopted biometric technology into its business and has so far reported no data breaches since its implementation.