Facial Recognition: The Art of Balancing Security and Privacy

Posted March 20, 2020 by q3techqt

We have all seen airports around the globe using facial recognition technology to verify passengers.

We have all seen airports around the globe using facial recognition technology to verify passengers. This has led to privacy advocates raising concerns, mainly in India, where an increasing number of airports are using facial recognition technology. This technology has also made its way into the airports of other countries like Japan, the US, the UK, and India in cites of Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Delhi. Some of the privacy experts in the country are voicing out their concerns about the lack of privacy regulations in the country.

This means that individuals can misuse the biometric data by the private or government industries. The greatest challenge so far is maintaining the privacy of passengers as the data that is accumulated through biometrics is vulnerable and can be easily exploited and sold if proper privacy regulations are not in place. One of the major concerns is that the facial recognition data that is gathered at airports can be used by the government for research purposes or can be sold to the private industries without the permission of the passenger.

Let us see the scenario in the Indian airport:
Airports in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Delhi have started the process of identifying passengers voluntarily through a facial recognition system. This is a part of the digital transformation journey. Next in line are the airports in Pune, Kolkata, and Cochin.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation is overseeing the Digi Yatra Policy, which is the implementation of facial recognition at airports. Its main objective is to offer air passengers hassle-free, paperless travel experience.

The Digi Yatra Policy states that once the passengers submit their official identity proof, their faces will be scanned. If a passenger opts to register through their Aadhar card, then the images of their face, as well as iris, will be scanned and captured and matched with the biometrics in the Aadhar card. Once the identity is confirmed, the passengers receive a 72-character token number from the official identification authority of India. This token is further recorded and stored in the persons' profile.

Now let us see facial recognition on the global scale:

The United States Delta Airlines launched a completely functional end-to-end biometric terminal using facial recognition for international departures at Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson airline in November 2018.

The facial recognition project is at various stages in many airports like San Joe, Orlando, Miami, and New York.

The Tokyo Narita airport is aiming at introducing facial recognition in spring 2020. Meanwhile, in Qatar, Hamad international airport is launching an end-to-end biometric system. Dubai International has been working with Emirates on a smart tunnel business scheme.

Facial recognition is never permanently stored; the airports need to apply several security and privacy checks to ensure the safety of the information. Security measures need to be taken in such a way that the name or even the contact information of the passengers is not accessible to hackers. Until this is taken into account, there are several loopholes in the process of facial recognition.
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Last Updated March 20, 2020