Apparently, passports are getting old, as Australia is implementing the use of face scan check-ins, instead of traditional passports. The original plan for it was revealed at the beginning of last year, and right now is to be trialed by Qantas on passengers that are using flights in the Sydney Airport this week. The idea of face scan check-ins is to reduce the discomfort of using traditional paper passports.
“We’ve worked with Qantas from the outset and are delighted to be partnering with them as we trial this technology,” Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said in a statement to CNBC. “In the future, there will be no more juggling passports and bags at check-in and digging through pockets or smartphones to show your boarding pass,” he added. “Your face will be your passport and your boarding pass at every step of the process.”
The project is still in the early stage of development. Also, using such advanced technology for Sydney’s 43 million annual passengers looks like quite a big bite, especially because there are many security and privacy concerns arising from it. Additionally, the process also raises skepticism on implementation of this technology on the behalf of the government.
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“[I]f the security rationale is about preventing terrorism, why not extend it to other locations like shopping malls, public squares or stadiums like the MCG. It could be anywhere that people gather together,” University of Canberra assistant professor Bruce Baer Arnold said in another statement to Financial Review. “The concern there is that this is ultimately disproportionate. Biometrics are very powerful and can produce real social benefits, or it can product real harm. Just because you have a hammer, doesn’t mean everything is a nail.”
The technology that uses the face scan check-ins is going to be implemented with a select portion of international flights in order to automate checking in, boarding, lounge access and bag drop. In the future, Sydney airport is hopeful to use this technology for mobile check-in, as well as processes associated with customs.
The Facial recognition technology has already been used in airports for years, thanks to customs’ SmartGates.
“The public acceptance of biometrics has been astonishing. We use it now with fingerprint scanning on our phones and in some cases facial recognition,” University of Technology Sydney associate deal of research in the faculty of engineering, Michael Blumenstein said. “There’s more people saying it’s OK, rather than being cautious. But I think there will be a tipping point where people see this getting worse and worse and more and more of our data being used.”