Facial recognition software is coming to an airport gate near you — presenting all kinds of possibilities for Face/Off-style malarkey (note: we have no idea if the second half of that sentence is true).
Here’s what we do know: In the wake of the January and November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, wait times at the city’s main airport, Charles de Gaulle, doubled. How to handle? Security experts there opted to test facial recognition scanners, meant to reduce wait times while potentially improving security. Scanners can check facial features against biometric data from 28 European Union passports. Biometric passports, also known as e-passports, include a chip carrying information like the passport holder’s retinal scans, fingerprints, or facial features. Use of these scanners can hurry travelers through security, immigration and boarding.
As futuristic as this may sound, it’s actually an incremental advance, not a revolutionary one. Facial recognition software is already used at airports in Japan, and the undersubscribed American service Clear uses biometrics paired with a traditional passport examination to speed its clients through a dedicated lane. But we’re perhaps inching closer to the point when paper passports may be replaced by a store of digital information — a situation that could present its own complicated security issues.
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