As the most popular search engine, Google has a lot of information on the average person. This information is collected by the companies search engine spiders that scour the internet looking for new material that can be included in their database. With such a complete database, we’re seeing companies turning to Google to develop profiles on people of interest.
When you go for a job interview, it’s not uncommon for employers to perform a Google search on a prospective employee. Now, it seems that the airlines want to do something similar, but according to the information that is coming out, it’s not to ascertain if someone is a flight risk but rather, it is a way to improve customer service. Essentially, before a passenger arrives at the airport, British Airways plans to Google the travelers so that they can be identified and welcomed. Their program is called Know Me and there is no doubt that this program is going to make privacy advocates cringe. In addition to looking up pictures of travelers on Google image, the company will also turn to their internal databases so as to build a complete profile of the person. For instance, if the internal database shows that the customer faced delays on his last trip with BA, staff will be made aware of this fact and will be “primed to apologize.”
British Airways has confirmed that their goal is to provide 4,500 personal greetings each day before the end of 2012. If you’re one of these people that prefers their anonymity, there is currently no way to opt out of the program. As BA will be using Google Images to identify you, you can however try to ensure that your online profile is clean and that there are no online pictures of you.