India Plans Facial Recognition Technology at Airports


NEW DELHI: The government today unveiled plans to introduce facial recognition technology at domestic airports with the aim of reducing the time and hassle involved in completing the many pre-flight checks.


Indian flyers will be able to leave their identification cards and boarding passes at home soon.

“The scheme will be rolled out early next year in a bid to help congested airports deal with rapidly rising passenger numbers”, the ministry of civil aviation said.

“Security will benefit from the ability of the technology to verify the passenger at every checkpoint in a non-intrusive way," ministry secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said in a statement.

Passengers on domestic flights will be able to choose whether they want to use the biometric authentication system and go paperless, he added.

“The biometric technology will be introduced first at Bangalore and Hyderabad airports by February next year, followed by Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada by April”, said the government in a statement.

The scheme is similar to plans that Delta Air Lines announced last month when it said it would launch its first biometric terminal in Atlanta. British Airways also recently installed biometric technology to identify customers at airports in New York, Orlando, and Miami.

The proposal says passengers would be verified by being photographed at every stage of the check-in process - from entering the airport to proceeding through security and boarding the plane.

The biometric system at the proposed airports will use passengers' 12-digit unique identification number ( Aadhaar) and mobile phone numbers.

The national Aadhaar database holds all the personal details of registered citizens, including their biometric data from photos, fingerprints and iris scans, in a national database.

"It's a welcome move but how will the data be stored and what happens to citizens' data... if private entities start collecting biometric details?", asked Devesh Agarwal, editor of the Bangalore Aviation website.

The scheme will be rolled out early next year in order to decongest India's airports, which have witnessed a six-fold rise in passenger numbers in the last decade.

Image Credit: Blue Swan Daily

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