European Border Agency Announces Trial of Biometric Screening System at Lisbon Airport

European Border Agency Announces Trial of Biometric Screening System at Lisbon Airport

The European Union’s border control agency has announced plans to trial biometric passenger screening at the Lisbon Airport, signalling what may become the next major phase in European border control.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency – also known as Frontex – has dubbed its new system “Biometrics on the Move”. It’s designed to let travellers authenticate based on facial recognition and contactless fingerprint scanning, and is being trialed this month in collaboration with the Border Service of Portugal (“SEF”) and the Lisbon Airport Authority (“ANA”).

For now, the system is only being used on passengers leaving the Schengen Area; in a statement, in a statement, Frontex suggested that travellers passing through the Lisbon Airport “could experience the future of border control”, though it did not indicate how many travellers would be screened using the system or how they would be selected.

The move echoes US Customs and Border Protection’s increasing use of facial recognition for passenger screening at a growing number of American airports, itself part of an expanding biometric border control program that is also in place a land and sea ports.

In announcing the Biometrics on the Move program, Frontex framed it as a means of making travel more convenient for passengers while enhancing security. “Biometrics on the Move will make it easier for travellers to quickly pass through border checks without even taking out their passport or other documents,” the organization said. “It is part of our mission to make crossing the border easier and more secure at the same time.

“This technology will give border guards more time to conduct systematic and efficient security checks without affecting regular travellers, increasing security at the borders.”

Frontex suggested that the trial at Lisbon Airport will be assessed based on whether it helps to reduce wait times. The organization did not indicate how long the pilot program will run.

October 8, 2019 – by Alex Perala