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Lincoln Partnership with CLEAR Airport Program Likely Feeding Biometric Information into Federal Databases

Buy a new Lincoln automobile and the company will help you get your information entered massive federal biometric database for free.

The Lincoln Motor Company has partnered with CLEAR, a private company that helps travelers move through airport security more quickly. New Lincoln owners can sign up for a complimentary, free membership.

CLEAR is not affiliated with the TSA, but biometric data collected by the company will still likely end up in federal databases.

CLEAR has partnered with 24 airports to streamline the journey through the security checkpoint. The company website claims “CLEAR speeds you through the long line for ID check, and guides you to the screening line.” The company collects biometric data including fingerprints, iris scans and digital photographs. Clear members go through dedicated CLEAR lanes at the airport, verify their identities through biometric scans and then move directly to the security screening process, bypassing long lines. CLEAR has also partnered with several arenas, including Yankee Stadium and Coors Field in Denver.

The Lincoln program with CLEAR launches in January. New Lincoln owners will receive a six-month complimentary membership for themselves and a partner. Lincoln Black Label clients will receive yearlong memberships.

While CLEAR is not affiliated with the TSA, the federal government intimately involves itself with every aspect of airport security. According to CLEAR’s privacy policy, not only the TSA, but multiple federal agencies will have access to any biometric data you give to the company.

“We also may disclose biometric data and other personal information for the purposes described in Section 2.A of this Privacy Policy to airport authorities, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and other government agencies.”

Once these government agencies have your biometric information, it will likely end up in permanent government databases. As we recently reported, The Department of Homeland Security is using the TSA PreCheck program to facilitate the collection of face images and iris scans on a nationwide scale.

This TSA will almost certainly share this information with other federal agencies, including the FBI.

In 2014, the FBI rolled out a nationwide facial recognition program. According to information obtained by Georgetown Law last year, the Next Generation Identification Interstate Photo System (NGI-IPS), already contains some 25 million state and federal criminal photos, mostly mugshots shared by state and local law enforcement agencies. Photos remain in the system even if a court never convicts the individual of a crime. It remains unclear what other types of photos end up in NGI-IPS, but it seems almost certain TSA pre-check photos and information gathered by other companies involved in airport security will end up in that database.

The federal government is in the process of creating an integrated biometric database that will ultimately have the capability to track people virtually anywhere they go. State and local law enforcement agencies also feed into this system. According to the Georgetown Law Perpetual Lineup report, the Department of Defense, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the U.S. Marshals Service have all had access to one or more state or local facial recognition systems.

Perpetuallineup,org describes the shocking breadth of FBI facial search capabilities.

Over 185 million of these photos are drawn from 12 states that let the FBI to search their driver’s license and other ID photos; another 50 million are from four additional states that let the FBI to search both driver’s license photos and mug shots. While we do not know the total number of individuals that those photos implicate, there are close to 64 million licensed drivers in those 16 states. In 2015, the FBI launched a pilot program to search the passport database. It remains unclear if the system can access the entire 125 million passport database or just a subset.

In a May 2016 report, the Government Accountability Office reported that the FBI was negotiating with 18 additional states and the District of Columbia to access their driver’s license photos. In August, the GAO re-released the report, deleting all references to the 18 states and stating that there were “no negotiations underway.” The FBI now suggests that FBI agents had only conducted outreach to those states to explore the possibility of their joining the FACE Services network.

If you value your privacy, you should obviously avoid submitting any kind of biometric data to federal agencies if at all possible. That includes the TSA. But it goes beyond that. Private companies involved in airport security or other federal activities will also almost certainly share with the feds any data you give to it.