BA rejects customer service app privacy concerns

The airline's "Know Me" customer service system, which allows staff to pull photos of customers from Google, complies with DPA, it says

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BA rejects customer service app privacy concerns

UK airline British Airways has rejected complaints that a new customer service application may infringe customer privacy.

Unveiled earlier this week, the "Know Me" system allows customer service representatives to pull data about clients from BA's systems, as well as information including photographs from the web.

The system is used by BA flight attendants using iPads, as well as staff at check-in desks. 

"[Staff] they may be informed that a Silver Executive Club member is flying in business class for the first time thereby enabling the crew member to welcome that customer and explain the benefits of the cabin," the company said in a press release.

"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," it said.

This morning, the Evening Standard reported that BA had "flown into a privacy storm" by launching the system. Nick Pickles, of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, told the paper: "Since when has buying a flight ticket meant giving your airline permission to start hunting for information about you on the Internet?"

A spokesperson for BA rejected the suggestion that Know Me infringes customer privacy. "All our customer-facing staff are trained in data handling and data protection," they told Information Age. "We would never use data in a way that was contrary to the Data Protection Act."

The system is currently only being used for "our most loyal customers," the spokesperson said. These include executives and frequent fliers. "Anyone could use Google to get a picture of these people."