India’s central government has officially announced plans to bring a biometric passenger processing system to the country’s airports, framing it as a bid to reduce congestion.
The announcement came by way of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and explained that the system will revolve around facial recognition, and will be used to replace paper travel documents, with passengers being automatically, biometrically identified at every stage of the check-in process. The system will be linked to Aadhaar, India’s ambitious biometric national ID program.
It’s confirmation of reports that emerged from the Pune airport last month detailing the installation of a biometric boarding system. The Indian government says it plans to launch the biometric passenger processing system at the Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports by next February, and that deployments at airports in Kolkata, Pune, Varanasi, and Vijayawada will follow thereafter.
The announcement offers a strong, and some may even say “defiant”, indication of the government’s intention to further expand the use of Aadhaar across Indian society despite a Supreme Court ruling last month that was aimed at restricting the program’s applications. The ruling essentially said that government authorities could only require Aadhaar authentication for the dispensation of social welfare subsidies, but it appears that the government is seeking to continue Aadhaar’s expansion by not making it mandatory, so that presumably there will still be manual boarding options for travelers who do not wish to proceed with biometric authentication through Aadhaar.
The effort echoes those on the part of the US’s Customs and Border Protection agency, which has been deploying a biometric border control system across a growing number of American airports. But in seeking to streamline the entire check-in process with biometric identification, the Indian government is aiming to go a step further and to boost both security and India’s commercial travel sector with the technology.
Source: Al Jazeera
October 5, 2018 – by Alex Perala