Gatwick to deploy facial recognition in 2022 for passengers boarding planes

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Gatwick will install facial-recognition technology and cameras for passengers boarding at some gates in 2022. (Sensors)

Gatwick Airport in the UK will begin deploying facial-recognition technology for identity checks before passengers board planes in 2022, following a second trial in the next six months.

The technology underwent its first trial with EasyJet at the airport last year. That experience showed that passengers boarded planes faster, resulting in a significant reduction in queue time, according to an airport spokeswoman who spoke to the BBC.

Passengers will still need to enter a separate bag-security checkpoint where they will still need to present a boarding pass. They will also need to scan their passport at the departure gate so the system can match the passport photo with their actual face.

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In the US, the Transportation Security Administration is planning a 30-day test of facial recognition at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport after similar tests at three other major airports going back to 2015.

RELATED: TSA plans facial recognition testing at Vegas airport

Concerns over privacy with facial recognition have been pronounced in the U.S. with some states and several cities considering or outright banning the use of such technology. On Sept. 11, California’s state Senate approved a three-year moratorium on the use of facial-recognition technology in law enforcement body cameras, and the measure is expected to pass the state Assembly as well. The measure requires approval of Gov. Gavin Newsom before becoming law. San Francisco and Oakland, California, as well as Somerville, Massachusetts, have enacted bans of government use of facial recognition technology.

RELATED: California seeking to ban use of facial recognition: report

Government Technology reported in May that such bans are often based on inaccurate information about the accuracy of the technology.  

At Gatwick, the airport has designed the technology to be in compliance with all data protection laws. Data from the recognition of a person’s face will be stored for only a few seconds.

Children under a certain age will need parental consent, but the airport hasn’t established what age that will be.

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