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Face recognition security coming to SA airports

With new biometric security landing at Cape Town next month, Thierry Mesnard of Gemalto separates fact from fiction.

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By now it’s impossible to ignore the biometric solutions cropping up in airports around the world and the technology will be piloted at Cape Town International from March 2019, with further pilots down the line at King Shaka and OR Tambo.[1]

It’s not difficult to see why, either: at a baseline, biometrics holds significant promise to enhance security, speed up and smooth out friction in the air travel experience. But along with these benefits comes the perceived risk of privacy compromise for the individual. These concerns are valid, but it is necessary to separate fact from fiction to achieve a clear understanding of biometric technology.

In the United States, for example, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is enabling the use of facial recognition, which is in turn encouraging multiple innovative pilot projects for scenarios ranging from bag check to boarding, in partnership with several major airlines and airports.

However, valid (and expected) questions and concerns have been expressed by consumer privacy advocate groups, a portion of the media and a minority of travellers. In fact, 60 percent of respondents to a global survey, Biometrics Institute Industry Trend Tracker 2018, feel that privacy and data protection concerns are restraining the biometrics market.

Healthy public discourse about facial recognition’s viability as well as information security or privacy implications should be encouraged. However, thanks to a jaw-dropping amount of misinformation and subjective conclusions being erroneously drawn, the biometric waters are muddied.

Let’s take a step back, stick to the facts and dispel some common myths or misconceptions around facial recognition and the way it will work in travel.

Click here to read the myths about facial recognition’s implementation in travel.

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