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Heathrow To Install Facial Recognition Scanners 114

Posted by timothy
from the don't-get-punched-in-the-nose dept.
itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers will recall that back in February, Heathrow airport required full body scanning for select individuals. Now we learn that the airport is installing facial recognitions scanners. The scanners will be used to capture passengers' faces before entering security checks and again before boarding. The stated goal is to prevent illigal immigration."
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Heathrow To Install Facial Recognition Scanners

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  • immigrants (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evtim (1022085) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @04:30AM (#36861470)

    Illegal immigrants? Boarding a plane in UK to immigrate to...?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah we have to limit all these britons trying to get out of their island to settle in a civilized part of the world. :)

    • FTFA:

      The facial recognition scanners will ensure that ticketed passengers board their correct flight. It will prevent, for example, a passenger who arrives from Miami from trying to use a domestic ticket obtained from someone else in the departure lounge and then flying to Glasgow. Since domestic flights do not have immigration counters, it would be possible with the departure lounge arrangement in those terminals for a passenger from Miami to avoid immigration.

    • RTFA: people flying in and then transferring directly in the transfers area to an internal flight to another part of the UK where there are less security checks on people coming in to the country. We have a number of smaller, regional airports.

      Lots of paranoia in the UK about 'illegal immigrants'. Quite ironic seeing as the people who make the most noise about this are likely to be descended from illegal immigrants themselves ;-) Our whole country is basically immigrants if you look far enough back...

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        Our whole country is basically immigrants if you look far enough back...

        Every country. Except perhaps South Africa.

        • South Africa doesn't get a free pass, since the cradle of mankind is to be found in central Africa, along Rift Valley, if I recall correctly, so you might give the Kenians a pass here.
          • by jez9999 (618189)

            Of course, the apes living there before these Homo Sapiens evolved say that the Kenyans are the illegal immigrants.

      • by Urkki (668283)

        Lots of paranoia in the UK about 'illegal immigrants'. Quite ironic seeing as the people who make the most noise about this are likely to be descended from illegal immigrants themselves ;-) Our whole country is basically immigrants if you look far enough back...

        Well, they'll be illegal only until they take over, and rewrite history and laws so that they're not illegal any more. I mean, that has basically happened many times in every country. But there are also cases where a particular wave of immigrants failed to take over, and existing population remained in power, and immigrants either melded in or disappeared in less nice ways.

        At this time in history, the process of melding in has been happening in places like "chinatowns" and "little indias" of major metropoli

        • Is there really? Or does it just get a lot of play on the news? Where are the hard, independently-verified survey numbers on UK attitudes or US attitudes on illegal immigrants?

          Sometimes I feel a bit like we're all being led by our collective nose by our media culture.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I hope they stop those English immigrants coming here to Scotland.

    • by igb (28052)

      The problem in some airports in inbound/outbound segregation.

      Here's the attack. I check in, with three friends at London for a flight to Edinburgh. My three friends leave the airport and go home, while I go airside with four boarding passes. There I meet three confederates, inbound from random country X. We then board the flight to Edinburgh where we arrive as internal passengers, and do not need to pass through any controls.

      So what happens at, say, BHX (which has weak segregation owing to its design)

      • by pjt33 (739471)

        My three friends leave the airport and go home, while I go airside with four boarding passes. There I meet three confederates, inbound from random country X. We then board the flight to Edinburgh

        This is where the scheme should, in theory, break down. When your friends go home and you go through the security control, your boarding card will be the only one they scan. The other three should raise an alert when used at the gate without having been used at the security control.

        • by igb (28052)
          If that interlock is in place, then my friend go airside with me, then exit back out with some arriving passengers (remember, it's an airport with poor in/out segregation). My friends have valid ID, remember, sufficient to check-in for an internal flight, so should have enough to exit airside.
          • by pjt33 (739471)

            Again, there should be a sanity check made against their ID when they exit airside. If their passport number isn't linked to an incoming flight (and if they can avoid passport checks on the way out this whole scheme is overblown) that should raise an alert at passport control.

            • by igb (28052)
              There's no cross-check on passports as you describe. It would require each airport to only receive flights from countries that send API, which isn't the case in Europe.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      The idea is to stop people who have been deported coming back in with different identity documents. A common tactic is to bring no or fake documentation so it is hard to prove the person is from a safe country and deny them asylum. Some also try to claim they are children when they are in fact adults.

      Japan has had this from incoming travellers for a few years now. A photo of your face and fingerprints are taken by a machine at the time of entry. I think they are more interested in keeping undesirables out t

  • Hmm ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lennier1 (264730) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @04:33AM (#36861476)

    The same faulty stuff that has lead to cases of mistaken identity in the US, costing innocent people their drivers license?

    • It depends on how it's being used. If they're comparing a person's face outside security with their face upon boarding to ensure that someone isn't somehow allowing another person to board in their place, then the system will have very few problems and can be verified manually if a person is flagged at the gate.

      On the other hand, if it's being used to detect whether a person matches a huge list of hundreds of thousands or more people, then there will be false positives on a regular basis and more unnecessa

  • "The stated goal is to prevent illigal immigration"

    Hopefully they can also stop bad spellers from entering the country.

  • "The departure lounge allows international and domestic passengers to be together so that the domestic passengers have access to the lounge facilities, according to BAA." ... which looks like a security design fail to me.

    Still, what if I have a valid, selfbought ticket from Miami to Heathrow T5 with a connecting flight to some small local airport in the UK afterwards?

    • by Malc (1751)

      So they can expose all customers to the same retail obstacle course? The owners of LHR have repeatedly shown that they only care about shopping. They don't care about passenger comforty, snow clearance equipment, etc. It's hard to find a good bookshop squeezed in amongst all the high end shops found 40 mins away on the Picadilly Line on Oxford and Regent Streetd

  • I believe the reason why they are claiming "illegal immigration" is to combat the issue of passenger switching. Essentially passenger A transits through the UK on their way to another destination - which means they have no legal right to leave the airport terminal. Passenger B buys an inter-EU/UK ticket, passenger A and B switch identities, and then A enters the UK illegally. Passenger B who was legal anyway just comes home using a second passport (normally issued by their native country before getting UK r
    • I think you'll have tons of false positive

      You mean false negatives? According to the description, they take a photo of you, then check that the person leaving with your flight ticket is actually you. A "false positive" would be a different person leaving with your ticket, but wrongly identified as you and accepted. A false negative would be you leaving legitimately but not recognised as matching your own photo. Very easy to have a living person check that you are the right person.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A passenger's face will be scanned after they've obtained their boarding pass and just before security. Before the person boards their flight, their face will be scanned again once they've left the departure lounge.

    This seems like a really expensive & complex way to ensure the person checking in gets on the right flight.

    Why can't they just put an identifying anti-tamper wrist band on each passengers as they check in, then check that at the gate. The band could be like the ones put on people instead of

  • Next new airport security scanner, is going to feature automatic cavity searches don't forget to bend over. The sad part is that sentence doesn't even feel like a joke to me anymore when I see how many privacy violations and inhumane things goverments are putting their people through. It's just discusting I just finished reading this: http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/32-signs-that-the-entire-world-is-being-transformed-into-a-futuristic-big-brother-prison-grid [endoftheam...ndream.com]. Is there any hope left for this stupid
  • If I remember this right (I've never actually taken a domestic flight, it's only something I've read) then they take a picture of domestic passengers at the security desk, the photo is brought up at the departure gate to verify the correct person is boarding the flight.

    I remember there was some controversy when they were talking about using fingerprint scanners to do this, and how it was unnecessary because the "the photo system worked fine".

    • by cervo (626632)
      Actually that is an example of something that is actually helpful. It's not too ridiculously expensive or unsafe (like bodyscanners using x-rays) and does not really invade your privacy too much (by showing naked pictures or something). I would welcome this system in American airports because it is possible for someone to open a door in a secure area and let someone else in. Really this is just an example of common sense.
  • Racial recognition scanners.

    Which wouldn't be all that different to what airports do now, come to think of it.

  • Gatwick Airport already has em in both north and south terminals. They've been installed over the past few months (called Autogates) and still have a lot of bugs in the system. They dont always do what they should. People have successfully talegated others, failed to be recognised and recognised as somebody different (ie family member). Although when they work they are quite cool. Will be interesting to see how they pan out.

    • by kaptink (699820)

      Heres a pic of them in testing - http://www.flickr.com/photos/65580523@N07/5969526401/in/photostream [flickr.com]

    • by isorox (205688)

      Gatwick Airport already has em in both north and south terminals. They've been installed over the past few months (called Autogates) and still have a lot of bugs in the system. They dont always do what they should. People have successfully talegated others, failed to be recognised and recognised as somebody different (ie family member). Although when they work they are quite cool. Will be interesting to see how they pan out.

      Are you thinking of the e-passport gates? Heathrow has had them for a while.

      I've attempted to use them 3 times, twice at Heathrow (T5), once in Lisbon. Worked fine in Lisbon (saving a long queue), but both times it's failed to recognise me at Heathrow.

      OTOH, the iris scanners at Heathrow work flawlessly for me, every time - I must have used it a dozen times in the last year.

  • Never fly through LHR and LGW again without prosthetic forehead in place.

    I jest, but more seriously, this news makes me glad that my travel patterns have changed such that I'm no longer flying through London.

  • I recall the paper that states that painting transformed haar-like features [wikipedia.org] on the face completely dumbfound common face detectors/recognizer(i.e.based on Viola-Jones [wikipedia.org]) Of cause more robust algo could be developed, but I doubt in industry ability and willingness to research and deploy them in foreseeable future(and spend money on them). More easy is to ban face paint.
  • You have to show your passport anyway, so obviously from that point on they know exactly who you are anyway. No-one seems to be up in arms about that, so what's the problem with facial recognition scanners?
    • o what's the problem with facial recognition scanners

      The high probability that it is a misprint for farsical recognition scanners.

  • Facial recognition is bad when used on CCTV in public places, because it permits the tracking of lawful activity (eg: finding out that person X went to Y political party's meeting).
    But in an airport, you're showing ID to travel anyway. Even in the case of a false positive, you should be able to show your ID and clear things up quickly (false positives will be common, so even poorly trained personnel will be used to them).

    Now, if you want to argue in favor of the right to anonymous air travel, that's a
  • At first I thought it said installing *fractal* recognition scanners and was wondering if they were worried about people who had parts of them that looked like themselves.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First off, let's just assume right off the bat that their stated goals are not their true goals. It's already obvious they don't even try hard enough to fabricate a real story.

    Now let me tell you a story about their iris recognition systems.
    10 years ago give or take, they started advertising their iris recognition system as a way of getting passengers through customs faster. I was interested in this since I travel in and out of the UK often and while it seemed like a good way to bypass long lines and int

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