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Orlando Int'l Airport implements face scan for all passengers

Thursday, June 21, 2018

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FLORIDA, United States (AP) — Florida's busiest airport will be the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, officials said today, a move that pleases airport executives but worries privacy advocates.

Officials at Orlando International Airport said the expansion of face scans would speed up the time it takes for passengers to go through customs.

"It's almost like Christmas in June for me," said Phil Brown, chief executive of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. "The process of going into and out of Orlando is going to be greatly enhanced."

But some privacy advocates say there are no formal rules in place for handling data gleaned from the scans, nor formal guidelines on what should happen if a passenger is wrongly prevented from boarding.

Airports in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York and Washington already use face scans for some departing international flights, but they don't involve all international flights at the airports as the programme's expansion in Orlando would.

The image from the face scan is compared to a Department of Homeland Security biometric database that has passport images of people who should be on the flight in order to verify the traveller's identity. The images are held in the database for 14 days before being deleted, said John Wagner, an official with US Customs and Border Protection.

The face scan expansion is costing the Orlando airport authority US$4 million. The programme should be rolled out at other airports in other US cities in the next year, Wagner said.

"We're comparing you against a photograph you've given the US government for the purposes of travel," Wagner said. "You know your picture is being taken. You're standing in front of a camera. There's nothing subversive about this, and we're only comparing you against your passport photo."

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