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Panel recommends non-intrusive airport biometrics for India

Deployments and data privacy fines announced elsewhere
Panel recommends non-intrusive airport biometrics for India

Biometrics deployments in airports are continuing to expand, but so are concerns about the intrusiveness of checks on passengers. An Indian parliamentary panel recommends non-intrusive biometric screening at the country’s airports in response to private concerns and long lines. Belgium’s data protection agency fined two airports for the intrusiveness of checking passengers’ temperatures as unauthorized COVID-19 health checks. A Honolulu airport will install more facial recognition cameras, and SITA summarizes innovations for digital identity in air travel, including Apple’s efforts.

India tourism and travel panel suggests biometric screening at airports

India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture proposed the inclusion of non-intrusive biometric screening entry inside airports to address long lines and privacy concerns with traditional passenger screening methods, according to NDTV.

The committee made the recommendation after the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) mentioned long queues at airports during peak times that creates worries in light of COVID-19 measures that restrict large public gatherings. It also concludes that door frame metal detectors, handheld metal detectors, and physical frisking pose privacy intrusions and are obsolete methods.

To rectify these problems, the committee recommended that the MOCA expedite its proposal for full body scanners at airports to hasten the processing of lines and enhance passenger identity verification technology. The panel suggests that the MOCA explore the feasibility of facial recognition, fingerprint, and iris scans to screen air passengers, possibly by checking them against Aadhaar’s database.

“Biometric security is non-intrusive and faster than conventional screening, which leads to faster screening of passengers and leads to less crowding at airports and is therefore being introduced in many airports abroad. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the global best practices for biometric scanning and screening of passengers should be introduced in the country,” the report from the committee states.

The Free Press Journal reported in March that a trial of full body scanners would take place across some of India’s largest airports, and that biometrics in seven of its largest airports would be integrated through the Digi Yatra program.

Belgian data protection agency fines two airports

Belgium’s Data Protection Authority (APD) imposed a fine of 200,000 euros on Brussels Airport Zaventem and 100,000 euros on Brussels South Charleroi airport for passenger temperature checks that were not conducted with a viable legal basis.

In a report spotted by IPVM, the APD finds that the two airports used thermal cameras to filter for people who had elevated body temperatures exceeding 38 degrees Celsius. Charleroi airport ran the temperature checks from June 2020 to March 2021, while Zaventem airport performed them from June 2020 to January 2021. In Zaventem, the individuals then responded to a questionnaire on possible symptoms linked to the coronavirus which was conducted a company named Ambuce Rescue Team.

Upon media reports about the temperature checks, the APD’s Inspection Service produced an investigation sent to the agency’s Litigation Chamber that determined that the two airports did not have a valid legal basis to process the health data in violation of the GDPR. It concluded that the airports did not meet the strict legal standards for processing data related to public health or public interest.

The Litigation Chamber also found the information provided to travelers and the quality of the impact analysis lacking.

Hielke Hijmans, president of the Litigation Chamber is quoted as saying in a French statement, as translated by Google; “We understand that companies have been hit hard by the pandemic, and that they have had to urgently put in place measures never seen before. However, privacy rules are an essential protection for the rights and freedoms of individuals, and must therefore be respected. It is our duty as the Data Protection Authority to enforce them. Our decision today is all the more important as it can serve as a guide for possible processing of similar data, whether or not in the context of the health crisis.”

Honolulu airport puts up bid to install more facial recognition cameras

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport plans to add more facial recognition cameras to speed up check-in and check-out process of international departures and improve security.

The airport plans to set up 41 facial recognition cameras at different gates for its Simplified Departure program (the rebranded version of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s ‘Biometric Exit’) that does not require passengers to scan a passport or provide their fingerprints, according to local broadcaster KHON2. The cameras will also aid in verifying identities of international visitors to “identify imposters,” says Chris Hawkins, assistant port director with CBP.

The airport put up a $15 million bid for the biometric systems, with the expectation that the number of visitors will increase with the loosening of COVID-19 travel restrictions, particularly from Japan, South Korea, and Australia. KHON2 says the cameras for departure will be installed by September 2023.

Thermal cameras and facial recognition were initially deployed at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to provide additional protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SITA hails Apple digital ID for airports

SITA put the spotlight on advancements made in Apple’s digital ID, aviation industry biometrics, and digital health passes as the changes propelling air travel forward to permanent digital ID for smoother passenger experiences.

The IT and telecommunications company for the air travel industry highlighted Apple’s mobile driver’s license (mDL) integration with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at approved airports and TSA PreCheck locations. The user taps their iPhone or Apple Watch against a Credential Authentication Technology reader, upon which the user reviews which data they wish to send to the TSA for verification and unlocks the device with biometric methods like Face ID or Touch ID. The TSA reviews the data and connects it to an internal database that eliminates the need to show or scan boarding passes.

SITA notes that few U.S. airports have a fully biometrically-enabled passenger journey due to regulatory constraints and technical limitations. But it cites successes like San Francisco International Airport and United Airlines’ successful trial of SITA Smart Path that requires a driver’s license scan to check-in, rather than an onerous task of handing over an ID or boarding pass to an agent. The company also predicts that biometrics can serve to help with auxiliary services like car rentals and hotel accommodations.

In a look to the future of digital ID, SITA says it requires ensuring government authorities receive information when they need it and make it universal across various industries to give passengers more control over their travel process. SITA predicts that a universally accepted digital identity will replace the traditional passport, which will come with the benefit of expediting the arrivals phase for passengers, simplify the passenger journey, and allow airports to pass more customers through their structures with design and not expansion.

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