Big Brother at Helsinki airport raises concerns among civil liberty groups

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Big Brother at Helsinki airport raises concerns among civil liberty groups

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Big Brother is watching you at Helsinki airport and tracking every move you make.

The decision to install sensors which will be linked to mobile phones turned on to the wi-fi mode has raised concerns with civil liberty groups.

The system is the first in the world which will track passengers’ movements in real-time from the car park to the departure gate updating them with information.

“For us the main point is how to improve the customers’ experience, to improve the enjoyment factor as well as improving the fluency of movement inside the airport,” said Heikki Koski, deputy manager, Finavia the company which operates the airport.

Around 15 million passengers a year use the airport, Finland’s largest and each one will be able to receive advertisements and marketing information if they choose to.

“Well it would interest and benefit me to know how much time I have to make it to the gate, but I can live without the advertisements,” said one passenger.

The operators say all data which is gathered is in aggregated form and cannot be passed on.

“If the users will not be identified in this system, very few problems will arise, but if the users or anybody tracked in the airport can be connected to their identities then this system can become a threat to privacy,” explained Ville Oksanen, researcher of technology justice, Aalto University

The technology was tested in a US department store where it was criticised for monitoring unwary customers.

The company behind the new service says passenger privacy is, “extremely important” to them and that “the anonymous monitoring respects customers’ privacy”.