Australia to replace passports with facial-recognition technology

Australia to replace passports with facial-recognition technology
A plane flies over Sydney's central business district after taking off from its international airport on Nov 25, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

In a few years' time, international passengers may possibly breeze through airports in Australia with no more cumbersome manual passport checks.

Its Department of Immigration and Border Protection plans to introduce systems for biometric recognition of the face, iris and/or fingerprints at its airports, doing away with passport checks and passenger cards - a move that could be a world first.

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported that the Australian government hopes the major overhaul of its immigration system over the next three years will make identity checks much more efficient and and better at identifying people on watch lists at its international airports.

John Coyne, head of border security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told the SMH the plan is to "streamline" the arrivals process so international travellers will be able to "literally just walk out like at a domestic airport".

While a number of airports have been using smart gates where travellers scan their passports upon arrival, the new system is way more advanced.

The authorities will try out the system at Canberra airport from July before introducing it at a busier airport, such as Sydney or Melbourne, for further testing in November. It is inviting tenderers to make their proposals.

The thing is, the idea sounds brilliant but you still need to carry your passport for cross-border travel.

And you'll probably need to produce your passport to identify yourself when you're inducted into the new system.

What's more, you will definitely need your passport when returning home or arriving at your next destination.

Another thing to note: You may still need to spend time waiting for your bag to show up on the luggage belt.

chenj@sph.com.sg

Read also: Better service, security at Singapore airport

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