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Delhi airport adds more Digi Yatra checkpoints amid concerns over security breaches

Delhi airport adds more Digi Yatra checkpoints amid concerns over security breaches

India’s largest airport has unveiled a new expansion and with it, more checkpoints utilizing biometric security clearance system Digi Yatra.

The expansion of Terminal 1 will allow the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi to handle 100 million passengers. The newly expanded terminal will have Digi Yatra at all entry gates alongside a host of other self-service systems, LiveMint reported last Sunday.

“Through this project, we have reimagined a seamless journey facilitated by facial recognition, self-service kiosks, and automated baggage systems,” says Prabhakara Rao, group deputy managing director at GMR Group, the company that operates Delhi International Airports.

Digi Yatra, which uses facial recognition to verify passengers, has so far been rolled out at 13 airports in India with a further 24 expected in 2024. The system, however, has also received warnings over two serious security breaches during February.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) directed that airports and airlines prevent tailgating through automatic gates after two people were caught entering Mumbai airport and passing through automatic boarding gates without tickets within a span of 10 days.

The agency asked e-gate manufacturers to improve their technology to ensure that two passengers cannot pass through the gate at the same time. It also said that more manpower and better procedures should be ensured to prevent similar incidents in the future, The Hindu reports.

Indian airports are working with e-gate manufacturers such as SITA, NEC, Amadeus and its recent acquisition Vision-Box, Idemia and Thales.

The Digi Yatra expansion and warnings over security breaches come against a backdrop of increased scrutiny of the system from data privacy advocates.

In January, a survey from community platform LocalCircles uncovered that almost a third of passengers enrolled in the Digi Yatra were signed up without their knowing, underscoring recent allegations that Indian airports have been capturing travelers’ face biometrics without their consent. A further 15 percent of Digi Yatra registrants said they signed up because they could not find the regular gate for non-registered users.

Organizations such as the Internet Freedom Foundation have been urging Indian officials to completely withdraw Digi Yatra from airports, citing “concerns relating to privacy, surveillance, exclusion errors and lack of institutional accountability and transparency.”

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