Feeds

UK airports to trial face scan passport checks

If your face fits, you're in

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The UK Border Agency hopes to conduct trials of automated passport-check gates at UK airports this summer. The gates would use computer software to compare a traveller's face with the information stored in new biometric passports, removing the need for human staff.

"Britain's border security is now amongst the toughest in the world and tougher checks do take time," said Immigration Minister Liam Byrne in a statement.

"But we don't want long waits so the UKBA will soon be testing new automatic gates for British citizens. We'll test them this year and if they work, put them at all key ports."

The face-scanner gates would be expected to turn back a proportion of people erroneously, but these individuals would still be able to go through a conventional manned channel. So would the holders of older non-biometric passports.

All new UK passports issued since 2006 contain facial biometric data. It is estimated that more than eight million are in circulation. Future generations of the technology are supposed to introduce fingerprint and perhaps iris signatures as well.

Technology of this type has a reputation for poor accuracy, but on the other hand security analysts acknowledge that mass photo ID checks by human security staff aren't all that reliable either. The UKBA seems to think that face-recognition tech is now at a point where it may be as good as people who must compare hundreds of faces and photos every day.

In one recent test, researchers claimed to have achieved 100 per cent accuracy with automated face-spotter kit using a gallery of images. However, in general a much higher error rate is seen as normal. A trial last year by German authorities in which cameras were installed at a train station to see if they could recognise 200 known faces among thousands of unknowns averaged only a 30 per cent hit rate.

The Immigration and Passport Service (IPS) didn't seem all that sanguine about the state of the automated face scan art last year, telling the National Audit Office that "there is good potential in the future for one-to-one comparison of the image held on the passport chip with the passport holder... which could eventually enable automated border control". It was also widely noted that the chips in the new passports have only a two-year warranty from the manufacturer, but are expected to last ten years.

Home Office spokespersons contacted this morning emphasised that this summer would see only "pilot schemes", and that the technology would not be widely rolled out if problems were found. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.