Australia's international airports are in the process of automating 90 percent of air traveler processing by 2020 by implementing facial recognition technology that involves biometric recognition of faces, irises and/or fingerprints, hence eliminating the need to carry essential traveling documents such as passports. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection, while building on the Seamless Traveller initiative announced in 2015, said Sunday that it will make a transition toward a "contactless" system for arrivals this year, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Under the new system, manned counters will be replaced by automatic electronic booths and the existing SmartGate that scan passports electronically will also be overhauled. Before introducing it to a major airport (scheduled for November), the program is to be piloted in July at Canberra Airport where international flight operations are limited to New Zealand and Singapore. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is scheduled to implement the technology in all major airports by March 2019.
If you're the type of traveler that can never remember which pocket you put your passport in when asked to produce it by airport officials, then Australia's plan for a major overhaul of its checking systems is likely to appeal. The nation's Department of Immigration and Border Protection is aiming to do away with the need for passports at its international airports by introducing systems for biometric recognition of the face, iris and/or fingerprints, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported. International arrivals could speed through airside without ever interacting with a human official as the new technology -- part of the government's high-tech Seamless Traveler initiative aimed at transforming the border experience -- will eradicate the need for passport checks and passenger cards. Besides making the arrival experience more efficient, officials also believe the system will be better at identifying passengers on watch lists. While a number of airports have for several years been using so-called smart gates that prompt travelers to scan their passports upon arrival, the new system, which the government wants in place within the next three years, goes much further.
Then it was your phone. Now governments in Australia want you to use facial verification to access government services, take public transport and even for your private viewing. Last month the joint standing committee on intelligence and security told the government it needed to rethink its plans for a national facial verification database built off people's passport and driver's licence photos. It said there weren't strong enough safeguards for citizens' privacy and security built into the legislation. Despite the concerns, Australian governments and agencies have come up with some creative reasons to justify the use of facial recognition and sell it to the public.
Passengers use facial recognition scanners before boarding a British Airways flight in Orlando, Fla. Brian Naylor/NPR hide caption The use of facial scanning is becoming commonplace -- maybe you've heard of the new iPhone? At the Orlando International Airport, Britain-bound passengers -- some wearing Mickey Mouse T-shirts and other Disney paraphernalia -- lined up at Gate 80 recently for the evening British Airways flight to London's Gatwick Airport. It looks like any other airport departure area, except for the two small gates with what look like small boxes on posts next to them. Those boxes are actually cameras. They were installed earlier this month by SITA, the Geneva-based company that develops information technology for the world's airlines, in conjunction with British Airways and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP.
The Indian government plans to decongest its airports by introducing facial recognition technology next year - a proposal that may once again raise privacy concerns in the South Asian country. India's ministry of civil aviation on Thursday said passengers on domestic flights will be able to choose to use their biometric authentication system and go paperless. "Security will benefit from the ability of the technology to verify the passenger at every checkpoint in a non-intrusive way," ministry secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said in a statement. The proposal says passengers would be verified by being photographed at every stage of the check-in process - from entering the airport to proceeding through security and boarding the plane. The India government statement said the biometric technology will be introduced first at Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports by February next year, followed by Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada by April.