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Sydney Airport to test facial recognition for nearly passport-free travel


Air travel passengers at Sydney Airport’s international terminal will be able to use facial recognition in place of a passport or boarding pass as part of a test starting in May, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Qantas Airways passengers are expected to be able to use facial recognition for check in, baggage drop, border processing, security screening, airport lounge, and boarding gate uses after showing their passport once for verification. Passengers can opt in to the program by registering with the Australian Border Force once the program is live.

The use of facial recognition at electronic gates has reduced the average time necessary for passage through customs from roughly 4 minutes to 23 seconds, according to the Herald.

“We are not aware of this being done to this extent anywhere else in the world,” said Sydney Airport’s CEO Geoff Culbert, who succeeded long-time CEO Kerrie Mather last month.

“It will make the travel process so much easier for customers,” Culbert said. “You can check in for your flight at home on the couch using facial-recognition technology using your smartphone.”

Sydney University associate professor Uri Gal expressed concerns to the Herald about where and how personal information associated with the system would be stored.

Australia’s increasing embrace of biometric technology includes the collection of millions of voiceprints by the national Tax Office, and expanding use of a growing federal facial recognition database.

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