India is moving forward with the launch of a face-based biometric passenger screening system at the country’s airports. The Digi Yatra system will be live at seven airports as of August 31, including those in Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune, Vijayawada, Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad.
In terms of utility, Digi Yatra is comparable to other passenger screening systems. The solution eliminates the need for paper documentation at many checkpoints, and allows passengers to drop their bags, pass through security, and board their planes with only a facial recognition scan. However, they will still need to scan their ticket when they arrive at the airport to bind that ticket to a biometric token that can be used for the rest of the passenger journey.
Travelers who are interested in the program will need to register before they get to the airport. Digi Yatra will maintain a central database that stores people’s personal information. People will need to submit basic biographic information like name and mobile number, as well as some kind of proof of identity, such as a Driver’s Licence or an Aadhaar number. Those who use an Aadhaar number can complete the registration process online, while those who opt for an alternative ID will need to go to an airport kiosk for manual verification.
Once enrolled, passengers will receive a Digi Yatra ID number that they can use while booking flights. Their information will then be passed to the airport to speed things up on the day of travel. The initial registration process only needs to be completed once, and Digi Yatra will add a photo to each person’s file once their identity has been verified.
Digi Yatra service will be delivered through a mobile app that will be available for both Android and iOS devices. The opt-in system is fully voluntary, and members are free to opt out and delete their profile at any time. Passengers will need to provide consent for data sharing, and separately for other use cases, such as targeted advertising. The actual airports are not permitted to create their own profiles without that permission.
India is rolling out the system in spite of steady opposition from privacy advocates, who have noted that the country does not have a strong data protection law. As a result, there is some concern that facial data from the program could be shared with the police and other parties.
Source: The Federal
June 28, 2022 – by Eric Weiss