India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture is encouraging the country’s Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to embrace biometric screening technology. The recommendation comes in the form of a report submitted during a budget session of Parliament earlier this week, and is intended to help the country’s airports deal with increasing passenger volume now that MoCA has lifted its COVID-19 restrictions.
The problem, according to the Committee report, is that the screening technologies that India’s airports are currently using are too cumbersome to deal with significant congestion. Volume has not yet reached its pre-pandemic levels, but it is rising rapidly (to the tune of 400,000 passengers on April 18 alone), and many airports are already experiencing lengthy backlogs during their peak hours of operation.
Those crowds represent a potential health hazard in the midst of a pandemic. Unfortunately, most airports are still relying on more traditional metal detectors for security. The Committee believes that those detectors are an obsolete technology, largely because the detectors are imprecise and the follow-up frisking process is both invasive and time-consuming if someone does set off the alarm.
With that in mind, the Committee is encouraging the Ministry to deploy full-body scanners to mitigate the need for physical frisks and searches. The technology would allow airports to process passengers more quickly, in a manner that better respects their privacy.
The Committee’s interest in biometric screening technologies comes from a similar place. Biometric tech would allow staff to verify people’s identities at check-in and boarding gates, which would further reduce congestion at overcrowded airports. The Committee is especially keen on eye scanning because India already stores iris data for millions of citizens in its Aadhaar database, though the report suggested that MoCA should also be considering other modalities like face and fingerprint recognition.
Facial recognition is becoming an increasingly popular screening option in airports all over the world. However, it is worth noting that Indian privacy advocates have opposed the use of the technology in the past.
In the meantime, CLEAR’s iris-based screening solution has also been gaining traction in the United States.
Source: Zee News
April 21, 2022 – by Eric Weiss