Face Scanning Cameras To Replace Passport Control Officers

Face Scanning Cameras To Replace Passport Control Officers
Passengers to be scanned in effort to "identify criminals and terrorists trying to enter the UK illegally".

Steve Watson
day, August 19, 2008


 Passport control officers at airports are to be phased out as new biometric face scanning cameras are to be rolled out under new UK border control measures.

The scheme works by scanning passengers’ faces and comparing them to photographs digitally stored on microchips in new biometric passports.

The technology, currently being trialed at Manchester airport is compatible with biometric passports issued throughout the EU, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

The system is optional for now, however, passengers opting to use more traditional methods will likely have to endure longer queues, where as those with biometric passports can walk straight through unmanned gates as long as they pass the detectors.

Watch a BBC report on the cameras here.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith commented:

‘The UK has one of the toughest borders in the world and we are determined to ensure it stays that way,’

‘Our hi-tech electronic borders system will allow us to count all foreign nationals in and out of the UK, while checking them against watch lists.

‘These checks make up just one part of Britain’s triple ring of security, alongside fingerprint visas for three-quarters of the world’s population, and the roll out of ID cards for foreign nationals, locking people to one identity.’

However, the Passport Control office is not where the use of facial scanners will end.

A 2007 British government report muted an extensive upgrade to cctv systems all across the country to incorporate facial scanning technology. The report suggested a central database of every camera and a network allowing access to it could be beneficial.

In the US there are several schemes that use Facial Recognition Technology in conjunction with Federal agencies, tying the technology to traditional documents such as drivers licenses, passports and credit cards.

A biometric face recognition system has already been approved in China and is expected to be used at airports, customs entrances, banks, post offices, residential areas and other public places in the near future.

Other proposals include placing the cameras in every seat on aircraft and installing software to try and automatically detect terrorists or other dangers caused by passengers.

We are assured that cigarette vending machines will employ the technology in order to enforce smoking laws. Similarly, supermarkets in the UK have already started trialing the technology with the justification being a crackdown on underage drinking.

In Japan facial scanning cameras are being installed in train and bus stations to replace tickets in a move to make the individual features of the face a "unique bar code" as part of an antiterrorism and anticrime initiative.

Police in Tokyo are also asking home and shop owners to mount the cameras outside their properties. "Police investigating an incident in the neighborhood would have access to these images." according to reports.

Cell phones and computers are now also being produced with face scanning cameras.

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