Airport facial recognition could soon handle masks, biometric boarding pilot begins in Brazil

CNIL cautions stakeholders, Idemia document checkers deployed, CyberLink signs up partner
Airport facial recognition could soon handle masks, biometric boarding pilot begins in Brazil

The use of facial biometrics in airport systems is increasing in France and around the world, and the country’s national data protection regulator, CNIL, is cautioning stakeholders to ensure that four important principles for using the biometric identification technology without violating privacy are observed.

French airport managers and service providers called in the regulator to provide guidance for experimentation with facial recognition, in the context of widespread adoption plans.

CNIL says facial recognition data is particularly sensitive, and must be subject to enhanced protection. The regulatory also warns that normalizing the technology could carry risks for rights and freedoms beyond airport settings.

In light of these considerations, CNIL says projects involving face biometrics at airports should justify the necessity and proportionality of the technology, obtain prior consent from passengers, which must be “free, informed, and specific” to comply with GDPR, and keep biometric data under the control of passengers. Finally, data protection impact assessments (DPIAs) are recommended before any implementation, whether experimental or not.

Travellers could soon keep masks on for facial recognition checks

Air passengers in the U.S. may soon be able to pass through security checks with facial recognition without removing their masks, Department of Homeland Security Director of Biometrics and Identity Technology Center Arun Vemury told an audience during the recent World Aviation Festival, Simple Flying reports.

NIST testing shows algorithms developed before the COVID-19 pandemic returned high error rates for masked faces, between 5 and 50 percent. New algorithms continue to be developed, however, with masks in mind, and as Vemury points out, a 5 percent error rate in production would mean that 95 percent of travellers could complete the check without removing their masks.

He expressed confidence that airport face recognition systems would soon be able to keep frontline staff and other travellers safer by no longer requiring most people to momentarily remove their masks.

New TSA credential checking devices implemented at Albany International

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed its credential authentication technology (CAT) devices to Albany International Airport to eliminate the touchpoint of handing over a boarding pass during travel document checks.

The new CAT devices were rolled out earlier this year to enhance fraud detection capabilities and supply real-time flight status information.

An image accompanying the announcement on TSA’s website depicts the device, supplied by Idemia. The devices read and authenticate numerous identity credentials, though they will stop accepting driver’s licenses that are not REAL ID-compliant by October 1, 2021.

CyberLink partners with airport services company

CyberLink has formed a partnership with Latin American airport services company Talma to provide its FaceMe AI biometric engine for its internal operations. The technology will be used for identity verification, mask and temperature detection, touchless access control, attendance tracking and workplace capacity control, according to a company announcement.

The companies plan to implement FaceMe to Talma’s operations in select airports in Latin America, beginning in Columbia.

“Large facilities and airports require a very strict access control environment to ensure the security and safety of employees. FaceMe is the perfect technology to enable airport service providers to reach operational excellence while meeting newly introduced health and safety guidelines,” comments Dr. Jau Huang, CEO and chairman of CyberLink. “Talma is one of the most trusted airport service operators across Latin America and this partnership speaks volumes to its commitment to not only the productivity and security of its entire workforce, but also their health and safety.”

“We pride ourselves on being an innovative organization always on the search for new technologies, processes and certifications that will truly benefit the airports we operate in,” says Gonzalo Aristizabal, GM for Talma Colombia. “CyberLink’s FaceMe AI biometric engine is the perfect tool for us to streamline access control and health checks, including mask detection and temperature checks, for our staff so they can deliver the highest caliber of service to our airport clients.”

Brazil plans country-wide biometric boarding

Brazil’s government is planning to bring facial recognition for flight boarding to every airport in the country, The Rio Times reports,

The ‘Embarque Seguro’ (Safe Boarding) project began testing with volunteers at Florianópolis International Airport last week. Travelers departing from Florianópolis International on Latam are able to board their flights with a face recognition check instead of presenting physical travel documents.

The system has been developed by the Ministry of Infrastructure, in collaboration with state-owned IT company Serpro, according to a Google translation of an Aeroin article. A unified national system enables passenger identity verification against different government databases as they pass through the Brazilian Passenger Information System (Sisbraip).

Passengers use an application developed by Serpro to register their facial biometrics, which are checked against the 56 million records held in the National Driver’s License (CNH) and National Traffic Department (Denatran) databases.

The system combines biometrics with data analysis, and removes the responsibility for clearing passengers from the airline to public authorities.

The technology is also expected to decrease boarding times, and also enable the delivery of information such as flight departure time and gate location.

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