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Data Privacy in the travel industry world

João Arteiro

The recovery of international air travel has increased the demand for efficient management of traveller identification and data analysis. Automation can help streamline these processes, but data privacy and the protection of personal information are also important considerations. Travel industry stakeholders must prioritize information governance and data privacy in their digital systems.

As data privacy becomes a more relevant topic, it is necessary to adopt new approaches to data capturing, information sharing, and management. Automating identification and clearance processes is crucial in ensuring the highest level of security when registering biometric and biographic data of travellers.

Travel industry stakeholders are under pressure to ensure that their digital infrastructures are in order when it comes to matters of information governance and data privacy. Implementing strong security measures, obtaining explicit consent from travellers, being transparent about how personal data is collected and used, and complying with relevant laws and regulations can help to protect data privacy and maintain the trust of travellers.

The multi-stakeholder nature of the travel industry requires a centralized management and decision-making platform that connects all virtual and physical security and data infrastructures in real time. This platform should be able to bridge the information flow between biometric touchpoints and detailed multi-source data streams and provide a powerful informational structure for decision-making that fully respects data privacy. This structure should be designed to analyze and understand traveller flow, capacity, and security issues, as well as develop close stakeholder relationships through collaborative, personalized engagement, all while prioritizing data privacy - Vision-Box has developed this platform - Seamless Journey Platform - to meet these needs.


The Issue of Data Privacy 


  As a safeguard for the individual, a number of jurisdictions have developed regulatory frameworks setting out guidelines and penalties for the proper management of information and the protection of data privacy.

Perhaps the most high-profile and well-known of these data privacy frameworks is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, a set of guidelines in which companies transmitting personally identifiable or confidential information are required to protect data privacy and well-protect the information. GDPR also requires that business processes provide data privacy safeguards, information systems are designed with data privacy in mind, data sets are not made publicly available, personal data is only processed as specified by regulation or law, individuals have the right to revoke consent to the use of their data at any time, and businesses must clearly disclose any data collection and its purpose, retention period, and third party sharing.

In a multi-stakeholder environment, different entities may store important information in different systems and data may be moved continuously, which can lead to data privacy breaches in the travel industry involving airports, airlines, border forces, booking agencies, hospitality providers, and payment processing platforms.


The Conflicting Needs of Travellers 


Along with the regulatory environment, travel industry stakeholders must also negotiate the sometimes conflicting demands of consumers, when it comes to issues of data privacy. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 2021 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) highlights the factors that airline passengers consider most important for stakeholders, and the findings are in some ways contradictory. 

There is general agreement that waiting in lines is their biggest pain point. Approximately 41% of passengers identified queuing at security screening as a top priority for improvement, while 55% say queuing at boarding is a priority area, with 38% of passengers calling out queuing time at border control/immigration.  

However, while many of the 13,579 participant responses from 186 countries seem to understand the advantages of using biometrics to reduce waiting times, a little over a third (36%) have actually experienced the use of biometric data when travelling. Of that group, 86% were satisfied with the experience, but more than half (56%) say they have concerns about data breaches and the subsequent negative effects on their data privacy. For greater assurance of data privacy, more than half would like to have clarity on who their data is being shared with (52%), and how it is used or processed (51%). 


How Privacy by Design Helps Travel Industry Stakeholders 


Privacy by Design (PbD) is a way of designing systems that Privacy by Design (PbD) is a way of designing systems that focuses on protecting information security and data privacy. It was created by Dr Ann Cavoukian of the Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence in Toronto, Canada. PbD is designed to help protect personal information in systems that involve the use of digital data in fast networks, including machines, services, and business processes. Its goal is to give individuals control over their personally identifiable information.

Privacy by Design ensures data privacy through the protection of personally identifiable information (PII) when travellers interact with government, airport, and airline stakeholders, where regulations require digital identity assurance of varying levels. The implementation of the PbD framework rests on seven foundational principles:  


  1. Proactive, not reactive; Prevent, not Remediate – Anticipates privacy breach risks and events before they occur and predicts which factors and threats may affect passengers’ data privacy.  
  2. Privacy as the default setting – Ensures data privacy and maximum security of passenger information, even if the traveller does nothing to increase the security of the system by default.  
  3. Privacy embedded into the design – Traveller data privacy mechanisms are built into the system as a security prerequisite from the beginning.  
  4. Full functionality: Positive sum, not zero-sum - Balances security and data privacy for a win-win scenario without unnecessary trade-offs in the digital identification process. 
  5. End-to-end security – Ensures data protection and information control throughout the data lifecycle.  
  6. Visibility and Transparency: Keep it open – To establish a chain of custody for data privacy, the individual is made fully aware from the beginning of the identification and clearance process that data collection is occurring, and what is the purpose and necessity for it.  
  7. Respect for user privacy: Keeps the interests of the traveller at the centre of the processes by guaranteeing and reserving individual consent for their information and data to be used.   

In the practical application of Privacy by Design in system engineering, businesses must consider the assurance of individual data privacy at every stage of the design process (machines, services, and business processes). This includes securing individual data by assigning as default the minimal collection and retention of data necessary for the identity process. Privacy by Design also allows for greater transparency on the collection process of personal data and how it is used, establishing clear guidelines for data privacy so that individuals can decide what information is shared and with whom.    


Digital Identity Management Using Privacy by Design  


The use of biometric identity, digital documentation, and encrypted data analysis over high-speed networks can improve data privacy security and protect information. Vision-Box's Seamless Journey Platform, a digital identity management platform, was designed with these data privacy principles in mind.

Seamless Journey Platform fundamentally works with a data management layer that conceptually addresses the Privacy by Design foundational principles, and holistically manages traveller-related data by combining the informational requirements of all the stakeholders involved for an efficient leveraging of multi-source data streams.  It offers multiple identity management, security, and cost-saving advantages by connecting travellers, aviation, and government stakeholders through a user-centric service. The platform secures the integrated airport checkpoint network by monitoring real-time traveller flow throughout the system.  

Seamless Journey Platform is a digital identity management platform that combines biometric technology with data-based analytical assessments to accurately identify legitimate travellers. It helps to automate the process of identifying and managing travellers at airports, which increases security and reduces the burden on airport resources. This helps to improve service levels and ensures accurate traveller identification. 

Overall, Seamless Journey Platformwith Privacy by Design is a tool that helps to protect the privacy of data and reduce the risk of data theft by reducing the amount of data that is stored or shared unnecessarily. It gives people more control over their personal information by allowing them to choose what information is shared and with whom. This helps individuals to be more aware of what data is being collected, who is collecting it, and how it will be used and stored. If it is necessary to collect data in order to complete a transaction, Seamless Journey Platformcan help to manage what data is shared and which stakeholders have access to it at different stages of the process.

In conclusion, data privacy is an important issue for all stakeholders involved in air travel, including airlines, airports, and other service providers. It is important for these stakeholders to consider data privacy at every stage of the travel journey in order to protect themselves legally and to ensure the privacy of their passengers. One way to do this is by using biometric identification and digital identity management systems that are designed with privacy in mind. These systems can help to deliver a seamless travel experience while also protecting passenger information and maintaining data privacy.

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