Several airports around the world will begin testing facial recognition technology developed by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Biometric identifiers such as fingerprints or <a href=”http://incompliancemag.com/biometric-scanner-on-school-buses/” target=”_blank”>iris patterns in the eye</a> can be used for automatic security checks, but facial recognition is the easiest method for passengers because it doesn’t require them to touch any sensors. As long as the system doesn’t flag them as a security threat, passengers can just pass through gates.
“When a lot of people gather in one place, queues develop quickly,” said NTNU researcher Raghavendra Ramachandra. “Rather than stop every single person at an airport gate, we’ve developed algorithms that recognize people’s faces, based on electronic passports with a photo and ID number.” Automated security checks using this technology could certainly help tighten border security while also being convenient for passengers by taking some of the headaches out of long security lines. However, when biometric identifiers are used in such a public setting, it is especially important that everyone’s personal data is protected. When the United States government tested facial recognition software at Dulles airport last year, privacy advocates were concerned. “What starts out as a narrow program can often turn into something that’s broad and has great civil liberties implication,” Harley Geiger, advocacy director and senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology, told the Washington Post.
The NTNU researchers said their algorithms ensure that personal information is automatically deleted by the system so that hackers can’t access the data. “Privacy is our top priority. The information on individuals’ movements is not stored in the databases. If someone were to hack the databases, they wouldn’t be able to reconstruct the data,” said Ramachandra. The technology that his team developed will soon be tested by technology firm Safran Morpho at several airports worldwide.