Airlines have recently started partnering with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to test Biometric Facial Recognition (BFR) technology at several airports across the globe.
What is BFR?
During a BFR screening, travelers get their photo taken and checked against the image held in their e-passport or passenger manifest, usually within three to five seconds. This allows passengers to skip manual ID check. In some airports, baggage checks, security gates and departure gates are all equipped with BFR capabilities so the traveler’s face becomes their passport and ticket. In the future, travelers may even be able to use this technology to make purchases at the airport or gain access to lounges.
What does this shift mean for the industry?
If BFR technology is expanded to more airports in the future, passengers should benefit from shorter lines and less time needed to get from the check-in counter to their gate. It also would mean that passengers won’t have to keep track of their passport, boarding pass or driver’s license while going through security, improving the overall experience.
For airports and airlines, BFR technology may mean a decrease in staffing needs and less congestion in terminals. It also will lead to increased safety, as the technology can be used to detect potential terrorists or those traveling illegally.
Is BFR a violation of privacy?
As with many new technologies and airport changes, BFR is being met with uncertainty from third parties regarding privacy rights, ineffectiveness and other dangers. In response, Customs and Border Protection partnered with the TSA to update their Privacy Impact Assessment, providing the public with insight into how personal information collected by biometric screening devices will be used. Public information is never distributed to a third party and Customs claims their systems are 97.5% accurate. The technology is backed by large air transportation organizations as well as the U.S. government.
Have you seen this new airport technology in action? If so, we’d love to hear about it below.
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