Computable, 2 Sept 2011: 'Face scan by government is privacy threat'
“Biometrics experts are divided over whether the installation of e-gates at Schiphol Airport will infringe on travellers' privacy. The operation of these biometric self-service gates does not require the storage of personal data. Still, there are dangers to the increasing use of facial recognition by governments, several experts say.
'The passport holder's photo is taken in the e-gate and compared on the spot with the photo on the passport's chip,' says European Biometrics Group director Max Snijder. 'So no external database is needed to carry out this check.'
Associate professor Raymond Veldhuis of the Signals and Systems group at the University of Twente also sees no privacy problems with the system. 'Privacy comes into play only when a link is made with externally stored personal data. That is not the case here,' says Veldhuis.
Passport and facial scan data of passing travellers will not be kept, a Home Office spokesperson confirmed.
Professor of techno-regulation Ronald Leenes of Tilburg University nevertheless has doubts about the system. 'The question is what exactly is behind the installation of these e-gates. Is it just about increasing the convenience of travellers or is it an intermediate step towards something much more radical? This is yet another additional point where data on travel movements can be stored.'
There is also the danger of 'function creep', according to Leenes. 'When this technology becomes socially acceptable, its capabilities can be expanded. For instance, travel data can still be stored. Without the traveller noticing. It is impossible for him to control whether data is stored or not.'
'Big Brother cubicle'
Privacy First also sees dangers. The foundation warns against the increasing use of facial recognition by governments. In a press release, the organisation refers to biometrics researcher Luuk Spreeuwers' argument to have a digital photo taken of passport applicants at city hall, at the moment they come to apply for their passports. This could increase the quality of facial scans and thus increase the likelihood of mismatches in automatic facial recognition at, say, Schiphol Airport, reduce.
'From now on, no more hassle with professional photographers, just hup, directly a high-resolution 3D photo in a special Big Brother booth at the town hall', writes the foundation. 'Originally useful for e-gates at Schiphol Airport and then also for automatic facial recognition in shops and on the street, eventually worldwide.'
Read HERE the whole article at Computable.