14.04.2017

Australia to replace passports with facial recognition

400Australia has started implementing biometric facial, iris and fingerprint recognition in airports, allowing passengers to go through without showing a passport or even talking to anyone. The "Seamless Traveler" project is aimed at creating a "fast, seamless self-processing experience for up to 90 percent of travelers," so that border control can focus on high-risk passengers. 

The Seamless Traveler system was budgeted to spend $94 million over five years to make the airport process more efficient. For about 10 years, automatic passport scanning stations have been used the 40 million travelers to the land down under. 

The system would replace passport-scanning SmartGates, which were implemented in the nation just ten years ago. The Australian government ran the idea past its privacy commission and passed a law in 2015 allowing it to collect more biometric data from citizens and foreigners, including minors, at its airports. That data includes fingerprints, photos, audio, video, iris scans, fingerprints and your height and weight. It plans to start biometric trials in July at a small feeder airport in Canberra, and implement it at all international airports by March, 2019. It aims to have 90 per cent of travellers processed automatically. 

While biometric technology has experienced huge leaps of progress, it’s still imperfect and controversial. It also raises ethical concerns with privacy advocates and current iterations have shown racial bias. An entire country relying on biometrics for its immigration system would certainly be an early-adopter shot in the arm for the industry.

In Tokyo, the government has been trialling facial-recognition technology in two airports since 2014. It hopes to introduce the system in full in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In France, Groupe ADP, which operates Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, began testing similar software in February.


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