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Travellers in India Will Soon be Able to Enter Airports With Facial Recognition, Says Govt

Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday said that facial recognition biometric under the government's Digi Yatra initiative would be "forward-looking and futuristic" and would be launched soon.

PTI

Updated:October 4, 2018, 7:21 PM IST
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Travellers in India Will Soon be Able to Enter Airports With Facial Recognition, Says Govt
Passengers wait at the check-in hall at Bengaluru International Airport. (Image: Reuters)
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New Delhi: Travellers will soon be able to enter airports in the country with facial recognition biometric under the government's Digi Yatra initiative.

Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday said the initiative would be "forward-looking and futuristic" and would be launched soon.

"No way there is going to be intrusion of privacy... This (Digi Yatra) is purely voluntary," Prabhu said.

Digi Yatra initiative seeks to promote paperless and hassle-free air travel. It is biometrics-based digital processing system for passenger entry and related requirements at the airport.

The Digi Yatra central platform would be operational by end of February 2019.

Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports would be ready for Digi Yatra implementation on pilot basis by the same time.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to roll out the initiative at Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada airports by April next year, as per the ministry.

Under Digi Yatra, there would be a centralised registration system for passengers and each of them would get a unique ID.

The ID would be shared by passengers at the time of booking tickets. The ID can be created by sharing name, e-mail id, mobile number and details of any identity proof, including Aadhaar.

Before travel, the airline would share the passenger data and the ID with the airport from where the passenger would be flying out.

There would be one-time verification at the departure airport while travelling for the first time using the ID. After successful verification, facial recognition biometric would be captured and stored in the Digi Yatra ID.

A registered passenger can go to the e-gate of the airport and scan the bar code/ QR code of the ticket. The system would also generate a token combining the face of passenger with PNR of the ticket, so that at subsequent check points the ticket details would be available on face recognition.

Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said e-gates would replace "all human interface points except at the point of security check. The physical security check will remain."

Passengers would not have to pay for this facility, he said, adding that the ministry plans to roll out Digi Yatra at all airports in a phased manner.

A not-for-profit company would be set up with the AAI and private airport operators as stakeholders. The enrolment for Digi Yatra would be done by this company.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said data privacy would be ensured with respect to Digi Yatra and made it clear that there would not be any profiling of passengers.

After completion of a trip by a passenger, the particular transaction details are purged from the system, he noted.

Through Digi Yatra, the ministry said, airports would have the possibility of providing innovative services and consent-based targeted services in future.

"Any service provider involved in facilitating travel of passenger from door to door will be able to use this platform in future through innovative solutions," it said.

To have a legal backing for Digi Yatra, Choubey said aviation regulator DGCA would come out with CAR (Civil Aviation Requirement).

In this regard, the draft CAR has been put out for public consultations.

Choubey said Digi Yatra can have significant advantages, including saving time as well as money.

Responding to a query, he said it could also result in reduction of CISF personnel deployed at airports.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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