Indian Govt. Plans Face Recognition Technology to Decongest AirportsSci-Tech

October 05, 2018 14:06
Indian Govt. Plans Face Recognition Technology to Decongest Airports

(Image source from: Al Jazeera)

The Indian government has proclaimed its plan to decongest its airports by introducing facial recognition technology the next year, the proposal that may over 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 opt 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.

According to a government statement, the biometric technology will be introduced first at Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports by February next year, followed by Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune, and Vijayawada by April.

Indian media reports said the biometric system at the proposed airports will use passengers' Aadhaar 12-digit unique identification number, and mobile phone numbers.

Authorities said the scheme will be rolled out early next year in order to decongest India's airports, which have witnessed a six-fold rise in passenger numbers in the last decade.

The scheme is akin to the United States-based Delta Air Lines launching its first biometric terminal in Atlanta or British Airways installing the technology at airports in Orlando, New York, and Miami.

Yet, the privacy concerns were raised by umpteen people.

The editor of the Banglore Aviation website Devesh Agarwal told AFP news agency that the proposal raises questions over whether the scheme had adequate privacy safeguards.

"It's a welcome move, but how will the data be stored and what happens to citizens' data... if private entities start collecting biometric details?" he asked.

The civil aviation ministry's proposal came a week after India's Supreme Court upheld the validity of Aadhaar.

The scheme had been dogged by controversy since its origination in 2010, with multiple cases of Indians finding their social security payments, or access to food and fuel rations, blocked despite owning an Aadhaar number.

-Sowmya Sangam

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